A Matter of Taste: Gustatory Sensations Influence Personality Judgments

By Karen Yu, Ijeoma Anyanwu, Lizzie Butler, Caroline Dashiell, Layne Ezzell, Matthew Hagler, Shameka Jennings, Cathy Lambert, Mary Mazyck, Mary Lawrance McAfee, Johanna McManus, Cori Niemann, Natalie Rothwell, Elizabeth Stadler and Carly Warfield.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Given that we use taste-related metaphors to describe individuals, might basic gustatory sensations actually influence our judgments of others? Fifty-five undergraduates sampled otherwise identical sweet or sour beverages and rated hypothetical individuals on various personality dimensions. Taste influenced judgments on composite personality measures and ratings of individual personality traits: participants sampling a sweet beverage rated an individual’s personality “sweeter” than those sampling a sour beverage, with larger differences generally observed for traits more strongly associated with the sweet-sour metaphor. Our impressions of others (and their impressions of us) depend not only on actions and utterances, then, but also on other superficially unrelated (yet metaphorically meaningful) sensory experiences such as the taste of a beverage recently consumed—a finding with potentially important implications for social interactions, impression management, and related decisions.

Keywords: Perception, Cognition, Personality Judgments, Metaphor

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.25-33. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1004.637KB).

Karen Yu

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Earned her B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Vanderbilt University with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. Her research interests include interactions between higher-level knowledge and judgments and more basic perceptual processes. More recently, her research emphasis has shifted to factors influencing decision making.

Ijeoma Anyanwu

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Lizzie Butler

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Caroline Dashiell

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Layne Ezzell

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Matthew Hagler

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Shameka Jennings

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Cathy Lambert

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Mary Mazyck

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Mary Lawrance McAfee

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Johanna McManus

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Cori Niemann

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Natalie Rothwell

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Elizabeth Stadler

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA

Carly Warfield

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, USA