Influence of expectation on sensory perception and food choice: a multi-center study (FA7 module 1)

By encountering a new product, our brain rapidly links this new impression to the most similar representation in memory to form expectations based on associations. Those expectations are very important in encountering new food products, as they can enhance or diminish perception, even before the product is eaten. It is also known, that the first expectations, are adjusted by new information about the product, such as labels, packaging, information provided through advertising, and the price. The sensory properties of the product are experienced and confirm or disconfirm the pre-existing expectations.

In this project, theenable (Freising), Diet-BB (Bonn), NutriCARD (Jena) and NutriAct (Potsdam) clusters will join forces to investigate the effects of expectations from verbal information on food perception, derived pleasantness (valuation), and subsequent food choice.

In Study 1, the effects of knowledge on different sensory components crucial in food perception and acceptance: taste, smell, and visual appearance will be investigated. Specifically, the four clusters will explore the immediate effects of contextual information using food labels (e.g. “high protein”) and health framing (e.g. “heart-healthy”) on food sensory and hedonic perception and subsequent food choice.

In Study 2, we will probe the efficacy of a “learning to appreciate”-approach for novel, healthy products developed within the clusters, such as the protein-enriched drink developed within the enable cluster.

Our objectives
  • How important is the impact of knowledge or labeling on food perception and choice?
  • Are there differences in neuronal processing of health claim information between different age groups?
  • How can the perception of the protein drink, developed in the first funding period of enable, be optimized in the olfactory, gustatory, and visual modality?