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Visual attention to rate-all-that-apply (RATA) questions: A case study with apple images as food stimuli

Antúnez, Lucía, Machín, Leandro, Ares, Gastón, Jaeger, Sara R.
Food quality and preference 2019 v.72 pp. 136-142
apples, case studies, cognition, consumer preferences, eyes, questionnaires
The check-all-that-apply (CATA) question format and variants hereof have become very popular in sensory and consumer research. In the present study, focus is directed to rate-all-that-apply (RATA) questions where participants in addition to selecting terms that are applicable for describing a focal stimulus must also indicate if this term has an intensity corresponding to ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’. Knowledge of how assessors approach the RATA task is lacking, and this study was dedicated to understanding consumers’ visual attention to RATA questions. This aim was achieved by tracking participants’ eye movements when using a 15-term question to evaluate images of apples with different degrees of internal defect (flesh browning). As expected, participants first looked at the terms, then checked the box corresponding to “applies” and finally selected intensity level, i.e. participants tended to rate attribute intensity immediately after indicating that a term was applicable to describing a focal sample. Commensurate with the two parts to the task, preliminary evidence of more visual attention was suggestive of larger cognitive effort in RATA than CATA questions. Potentially this could be associated with a more “analytical” frame of mind among participants. More visual attention to the RATA question was associated with higher ability to discriminate among samples, in agreement with previous results for CATA questions. Overall, the research supported consumers’ ability to use RATA questions as intended, and indirectly to continued methodological uptake.