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Perceptual and affective responses to sampled capsaicin differ by reported intake

Nolden, Alissa A., Hayes, John E.
Food quality and preference 2017 v.55 pp. 26-34
bitterness, capsaicin, dose response, hot peppers, rating scales
The present study was conducted to a) generate suprathreshold dose-response functions for multiple qualities evoked by capsaicin across a wide range of concentrations, and b) revisit how intensity ratings and liking may differ as a function of self reported intake. Individuals rated eight samples of capsaicin for perceived burn and bitterness, as well as disliking/liking. Measures of reported preference for chili peppers, chili intake frequency, prior experience and personality measures were also assessed. Here, we confirm prior findings showing that burn in the laboratory differs with reported chili intake, with infrequent consumers reporting more burn. We extend these findings by exploring how capsaicin perception varies by reported liking, and measures of variety seeking. We also address the question of whether differences in burn ratings may potentially be an artifact of differential scale usage across groups due to prior experience, and not chronic desensitization, as is typically assumed. By using generalized scaling methods and recalled sensations, we conclude the differences observed here and elsewhere are not likely due to differences in how participants use rating scales.