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The influence of the feel of product packaging on the perception of the oral-somatosensory texture of food

Piqueras-Fiszman, Betina, Spence, Charles
Food quality and preference 2012 v.26 no.1 pp. 67-73
biscuits, containers, direct contact, experimental design, food packaging, hardness, indirect contact, people, sensation, texture, yogurt
Most of the published research on the perception of food texture has focused on what happens in-mouth during consumption. It is, however, important to note that people’s judgments of food texture can also be influenced by other sensory cues, such as haptic input, be it their direct contact with the food, or possibly also their indirect contact with the product packaging as well. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether changing the surface texture of the product packaging would affect people’s perception of the product contained within—that is, we wanted to know whether the feel of the packaging held in a consumer’s hand would influence the perceived texture of the food. Participants tasted biscuits and yoghurt samples from pots (yoghurt containers) that varied in terms of their surface texture (rough/granular vs. smooth). Additionally, the foodstuffs also varied in terms of their texture (crunchiness and thickness, respectively). In a 2×2 experimental design, the participants assessed the texture of the foodstuff and their liking for it while holding the pot in their non-dominant hand. The results revealed that the texture of the container influenced participants’ ratings of certain of the texture attributes being assessed, namely the most related ones. These findings shed light on the importance of nondiagnostic haptic cues (defined as those that objectively should not identify or prompt any effect) in the perception of food. These results, explained in terms of sensation transference, could have important implications for the food packaging and hospitality sectors.