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Desires for beverages and liking of skin care product odors in imaginative and immersive virtual reality beach contexts
- Andersen, Ida Ninett Skovgaard K., Kraus, Alexandra A., Ritz, Christian, Bredie, Wender L.P.
- Food research international 2019 v.117 pp. 10-18
- beverages, cold, computer simulation, cosmetics, females, food choices, odors, sensation
- Immersive technologies simulating real-life environments allow repeated simulation of complex real-life situations at one location and, therefore, bear potential for consumer product evaluations and food behavior studies. This study aimed to assess whether a contextual exposure by immersive virtual reality (VR) or a photo-enhanced imaginative (PIC) condition could induce effects on desires and liking aligning with the situation. A total of 60 subjects (30 females) were presented to VR and PIC beach settings in a randomized balanced design performed in a laboratory one week apart. A follow-up test in the same room but without the contextual exposure was also performed (Neutral). Subjects rated their desires for hot and cold beverages during and just after the contextual exposure. Liking for skin care samples (sun screen and regular lotion) were assessed during exposure. The retention of the contextual exposure was further explored in a food choice behavior test. A similar test setup was followed in the Neutral condition. Engagement by presence dimensions (e.g., felt like being on a beach) and level of excitement was scored following the contextual exposure. The VR condition induced a significantly stronger engagement, compared with the PIC condition. During each beach exposure a significantly stronger desire for cold beverages compared to hot beverages was induced. The desire for cold versus hot beverages was, however, significantly larger in the VR simulation compared to the PIC context. Results from the Neutral condition provided no significant difference in the desires for hot versus cold beverages. A significant shift in desires was observed after the completion of the contextual beach exposures, as desire scores became aligned with scores assessed in the Neutral condition. The shift in desires was, however, more pronounced after VR. Variations in the contextual settings had little effect on odor liking and no retention effect on choice behavior was observed. Immersive VR induced a positive sensation of presence less dependent on the level of excitement and had a stronger effect on beverage-related desires. The VR technology seems to be a promising tool for evaluating contextual influences in food consumer research.