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Emoji as a tool for measuring children’s emotions when tasting food

Schouteten, Joachim J., Verwaeren, Jan, Lagast, Sofie, Gellynck, Xavier, De Steur, Hans
Food quality and preference 2018 v.68 pp. 322-331
adolescents, children, emotions, empirical research, food choices, food industry, foods, prediction, questionnaires
Consumers’ emotional evaluation of food products has gathered interest among sensory scientists and food companies as a means to gain additional insights beyond hedonic measurements. While recent work shows that emotional profiling can also be performed with children and teenagers, concerns have been raised about the validity of emotional profiling when using traditional questionnaires, especially with children. Emoji have recently been proposed as an alternative approach, but empirical studies with this target group are scarce.Using 5 different samples of a biscuit (‘speculoos’), this study evaluates the use of emoji for emotional profiling with 149 children (11–13 years old). Overall liking and emotional profiling (with 33 emoji) were assessed for each sample, using the check-all-that-apply approach. Children’s actual food choice was also recorded.Results showed that, on average, 10% of the emoji were selected for each sample. The emoji were able to discriminate between the products, while less discrimination was obtained between hedonically similar samples. Also, results indicated that some emoji responses were influenced by consumption frequency. Furthermore, this study found that adding emoji measurements improves food choice prediction compared to the sole inclusion of overall liking measurements.This study suggests that emoji can be used as an alternative means of emotional profiling with children and their inclusion helps to better predict actual food choice. More research is needed to examine the use of emoji in sensory research with children, especially regarding the selection and number of emoji.