Hunger and Eating Study Replication

What is Beautiful Tastes Good: Visual Cues and Taste Evaluation

By: Brian Wansink, Collin Payne and James E Painter

Research Goal

The goal of the original study was to see if visual cues directly influence taste evaluations through a confirmation bias. It aims to understand if "goodness" cues of food from plating and presentation affect a person's evaluation of its value.

Participants

Original Study

175 students at a large university were approached in the cafeteria and asked to sample a free brownie and fill out a survey

Our Replication

We tabled in the Alliot Lobby for 2 hours and asked students passing by if they would like to have a free sample of a brownie and answer a quick questionnaire for us. We ended up with 33 participants

Procedure

Original Study

Each participant was given one brownie which was plated and presented in one of three ways: napkin, paper plate, and a glass plate with garnish

Each participant was asked to fill out a questionnaire to assess their opinions on the taste, texture, quality and how much they were willing to pay

Our Replication

Between every 5-10 participants we switched out the way our brownie was presented; a napkin, a paper plate and a glass plate with powdered sugar

After sampling the brownie each participant filled out a questionnaire assessing the taste, texture, quality and price willing to pay

Hypothesis

Original Study

The researchers suggested that the plating and presentation of the brownie will positively affect the "post-consumption sensory experiences of the food"

In order to test their hypothesis, the post-consumption evaluation (willingness to pay) was submitted to a between subjects one-way MANOVA (multivariate analyses of variance)

A Tukey's HSD post-hoc analysis was performed in order to understand the significant differences in price lie as a function of presentation style.

Our Replication

We hypothesized the same thing as the original study: that the presentation of the brownie would positively affect the post-consumption sensory experiences of the food.

We followed the same route as the original study and ran a between subjects one-way MANOVA to test this hypothesis with presentation style as a single factor with three levels (napkin, paper plate and glass plate with garnish).

We also ran a Tukey's post-hoc test in order to find any significant differences in post consumption evaluation for each dependent variable as a function of presentation style

Results

Original Study

There was a significant increase in perceived taste, texture, and quality as a function of plating and presentation. (Wilk's lambda= .024, p<.001).

The post-hc analyses found that for the dependent variable "taste" there was a significant difference found between presentation of a brownie on a napkin and glass plate with garnish (p<.001) and a brownie presented on a paper plate and glass plate with garnish (p<.01). For the dependent variable of "texture" there was a significant difference between a brownie on a napkin and a glass plate with garnish (p<.05) and for "quality" there were significant differences revealed for a brownie on a napkin and paper plate (p<.05) and a brownie on a napkin and glass plate with garnish (p=.001)

We highlighted the significant findings
Our Replication

The results from our between subjects found that there was indeed a notable increase in perceived taste, texture and quality of the brownie depending on the plating and presentation (Wilks lambda= .034, p<.05)

Our post-hoc analyses to test any significant differences for post-consumption evaluation between dependent variables through plating and presentation found that there was a significant difference for the variable "texture" between the brownie presented on a paper plate and a glass plate with garnish (p<.05). For the variable "quality" there was a significant difference between a brownie presented on a paper plate and on a glass plate with garnish (p<.05).

Discussion

We found through our results that the plating and presentation of a food does in fact affect a person's evaluation in terms of sensory experiences of food along with how much one is willing to pay for a food. Our hypothesis was supported through our findings and showed that the plating and presentation of the brownie influenced how palatable the food seemed to the participants along with how valuable the food was perceived. All of the dependent variables (taste, texture, quality and "willingness to pay") all showed significant increases as a function of the presentation of the brownie.

Implications

The researchers of the original study found three practical implications of the results of this study. First off, it seems that because participants said that they would spend more money on the brownie that was presented on a glass plate with garnish than the brownies on a napkin or paper plate can imply that marketers may be able to charge more for their food if it is presented nicely. The study implies that it may be best for food marketers to portray the most realistic picture of the food they are selling in order to remove any false assumptions about the food quality and taste. Finally it may be smart for consumers to be wary of the value of the food because it is clear that food can be made to look attractive in order to cost more.

Due to the findings on this study and our replication, it is clear that the attractiveness of food and the presentation of it can cause assumptions about the palatability and value of the particular food.

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