The thing I miss most after I came to another territory is the food in China. There’s no single similarity between the procedure of food preparing in the Netherlands and my homeland. And after several complaints to my friends, they started to send me videos of them eating food that are impossible to be found in the Netherlands. I could hear the hot pot bubbling and boiling away, I could see the sliced beef floating up and down, and they looked at me, salivating madly in my mouth, then they would turn off the facetime satisfactorily.
Then, instead of unfriending them, I started to reconsider my life in a psychological perspective: this is a classical conditioning in my daily life, the sound is a conditioned stimulus. But what it will be if this stimulus – the sounds from these foods are gone? How will they taste then if we cannot hear the steak buzzing on the plate? Will they be less tasty than a vivid buzzing steak? To my view, the sound would influence the food pleasantness to some extent.Internally sounds: crunch, buzzing and popping According to Delwiche, the flavor, smell, warmth and color are important aspects of eating behavior while the sound is of the least importance. However, I presume the sound made by the food itself has a considerable impact on the level of rating it.
For example, it is sure that you will feel something is wrong without hearing the crunchy sound when biting potato chips, Zampini and Spence pointed out that the perception of crispness and staleness of potato chips would differ if sounds were made during the biting action are not the same, when the crunchy sound frequency is high, people perceive these potato chips are preferably more crispy even if sounds were manipulated and all chips actually came from the same package, and in this case they suggested that auditory cues associated with a particular product would affect people’s perception of products qualities. In addition, some more subtle sound, for example, the sound of tea and coffee in our mouths, the sound of chocolate melting in our mouths, were concluded into the field of acoustic tribology, and will cause impacts of eating behavior in the unconsciousness level. Not only the food itself, but also the sound of packages, like the sound of opening a bottle of champagne, a pleasing opening sound would make people feel the taste would be great. And from Brown’s experiment, the sound of opening wax paper wrapped bread was perceived to be fresher than those in cellophane paper. Also, the sound of preparation of food is taken into the variable sound stimuli, from the experiment of Spence and Shankar, listening to the sound of frying bacon when eating the bacon and egg sandwich, the sandwich was considered to be majorly bacon flavored, and if hearing chickens or boiling egg, the sandwich was therefore considered to be majorly egg flavored. As normal as they may sound in our daily life, that is how people were taught to perceive, therefore, the generalization of experiments seems to be not that convincing.
However, it is explained by a theory called cross-modal correspondence, the consistent mappings from the sensory stimulus showed by Crisinel and Spence, also they had proven it by speeded classification paradigm, which required the participants to focus on only one characteristic, for example, color, shape, and neglect other irrelevant characteristics, and somehow people would be affected by these irrelevant characteristics anyway. Also shown in the journal published by Spence and Piqueras-Fiszman it was explained with tone painting, when we eat, or only in the situation of eating, brain would make use of experiences, information cue of food will cause strong expectation, so when hearing the steak buzzing, your brain would make you emerge expectation for its taste, if it reaches the expectation, the rating for this steak would increase, and if it does not reach the expectation, the rating for this steak would decrease. Externally sounds: background sounds and noises.To explain the impact of sound stimuli for food rating, not only the sound made from food itself should be considered, but also the sound of the background.
Key characteristics of music is its tone and voice, both characteristics would influence people’s eating. First, through Implicit Association Test (IAT), it was shown that the frequency of sound has significant connection with basic taste: when lower tunes showed together with bitter food names, participants showed a shorter reaction time and lower failure rate; besides, Go/Nogo task also showed that both sweetness and saltiness are bond with higher tunes. Second, voices of different instruments can affect eating behavior, Crinsnel and Spence showed that people tends to choose trombone when experiencing bitter and sour taste, and tends to choose piano voice when tasting sweetness. Furthermore, a complex taste would also bond with a voice, for example, lemon flavor basically bonds with bright and sharp voices. It is explained by Stroebele and de Castro that in the pressure way that slow music makes people relax and tend to stay longer and in this way, consume more food unintentionally. It was also explained by a sematic matching account, that auditory and taste stimulus matches based on the languages people learnt, it can be found in the ‘sweet’ voice and a ‘sweet’ taste.
One typical point in a background sound – frequency and tune changing senselessly and being unpleasant – noise. People would normally take in more alcohol drinks in a shorter time, not only on alcohol drinks, every 10 dB of noise increased, the length of neighbors’ waists increase by 6 centimeters. As shocking as this may sound, noise does a great contribution indeed when you stepping onto a weighing machine “silently”. It also shows that noise is sometimes not a negative factor for people’s eating behavior, it increased the amount of food and alcohol that people take in.
Spence explained it could be people eating to solve high pressure resulting from noises. But more precisely, Woods, Poliakoff et al. had pointed out that participants were less sensitive to different flavors under the noise, the reasons are, firstly, noises drown out the auditory cues when we eat crispy food or drinking carbonated beverages. Secondly, noise makes our brain harder to have a precise prediction of alcohol volume and therefore drink more than we intentionally want to drink. Thirdly, noise makes people could not hear each other and to compensate the loss of communication, they will keep drinking and eating. Due to these, in some fast food store we could hear loud music, so next time if you are on a diet, make sure do not walk into a diner that is preferably noisy.Appliance of auditory cues manipulating people’s satisfactory towards foodComing into practice, in supermarkets, food retailers, it is increasing that the music playing there are nature sounds, the reason of doing so is to enhance the ambiance of the store and even influence consumers’ willingness of purchasing sustainable food potentially, suggested by Spendrup, Hunter and Isgren.
It is stated in the last paragraphs that sounds can be modified to affect decision making, from mood to eating behavior, but purchase intention is complex, we need to consider retail atmospherics which is not only about creating an atmosphere that is pleasing, but also a “congruent” relationship between atmosphere and products in store. According to MacInnis and Park, when the relationship is formed, it will have positive effect on costumers’ emotions and brand evaluation, in other words, buying intentions. It has been suggested by Jacob that music can prime some of related knowledge, also prime the selection of certain products when they are associated with that knowledge. Spendrup used a song that was confirmed to be associated with nature before the experiment, in the experiment, men showed lower connectedness to nature comparing to women, and were less predisposed towards purchasing sustainable products under the sounds that is associated with nature, nevertheless, it is showed in the experiment that majority of people would be affected by sounds. Therefore, food retailers and supermarkets can indeed use sounds of nature as a tool to encourage consumers’ purchasing intentions. Overall, the sound is not only of a great importance in communicating with other people but also in other sensory perceiving and even in many decision makings.
The key challenge to find an appropriate explanation in the field of auditory cues have an impact in eating behavior, both in psychological field and neuroscientific field. Present essays showed multiple explanations but still not convincing enough.