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To see is to hold: Using food surface textures to communicate product healthiness

Jansson-Boyd, Cathrine V., Kobescak, Mateja
Food quality and preference 2020 v.81 pp. 103866
biscuits, chewiness, consumer preferences, hardness, mouth, receptors, texture
In this paper, we test whether the evaluation of food healthiness is affected by tactile surface qualities that are seen but not touched. Furthermore, we explored if visually based tactile surface cues influence perception more or less depending on whether they are explicitly or implicitly presented. Participants were shown 3 implicitly and 3 explicitly textured biscuits that were identical apart from the surface texture. The surfaces were either smooth, medium or rough and were rated on perceived healthiness. Additionally, the biscuits were rated on tastiness, likelihood of purchase, crunchiness and chewiness, aspects that can affect consumer choice outcomes. A pattern emerged whereby implicit surface textures affected perception more than explicit textured surfaces. Specifically, perceived product healthiness was greater for medium textured implicit surfaces. Thus, it seems that food healthiness is influenced by cross-sensory cues. Implicitly rough textures were found to be perceived as crunchier. Determining food properties usually relies on exposing receptors within the mouth to the components of ingested food. However, we demonstrate here that properties such as crunchiness also can be dependent on surface texture. The findings can be used to encourage consumers to purchase healthier food products.