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Knowledge representation among assessors through free hierarchical sorting and a semi-directed interview: Exploring Beaujolais wines

Honoré-Chedozeau, C., Lelièvre-Desmas, M., Ballester, J., Chollet, S., Valentin, D.
Food quality and preference 2017 v.57 pp. 17-31
expert opinion, experts, red wines, winemaking
One way of exploring knowledge representation is to compare expert and non-expert strategies. Expert knowledge representation seems to be acquired through both exposure and intensive formal training, leading to the development of skills and conceptual knowledge related to a specific field. The objective of our study was to dissociate the effects of familiarity and expertise on the development of knowledge representations about wine. Three panels were therefore recruited to study the conceptual representations of Beaujolais red wines among wine experts and consumers. One panel was composed of unfamiliar consumers from a region without wine production, while the other two were familiar consumers, or experts, both from the Beaujolais region. A free hierarchical sorting task with wine labels was followed by a semi-directed interview. The results of the hierarchical sorting task showed that the three panels formed common groups that were mostly related to the Beaujolais wine taxonomy-based system. However, the interview results regarding criteria and strategies showed that the three panels had very different knowledge representations of Beaujolais wines. Although experts and familiar consumers used top-down strategies based on knowledge, their wine knowledge representations differ. For experts, knowledge representation is flexible and leads to different categorization schemes, while for familiar consumers, knowledge representation is rigid and leads to a single categorization scheme based on the Beaujolais taxonomy. Unfamiliar consumers have fragmented knowledge, leading to the use of bottom-up strategies to compensate for their lack of exposure to wine. This strategy leads to a misrepresentation of Beaujolais wines.