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Individual differences in taste perception and bitterness masking

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The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the effectiveness of bitterness masking. To test whether phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) `supertasters'

The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the effectiveness of bitterness masking. To test whether phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) `supertasters' also taste salt and sugar with greater intensity, as suggested by Bartoshuk and colleagues (2004), we infused strips of paper with salt water or sugar water. The bitterness rating of the PTC strip had a significant positive linear relationship with ratings of both the intensity of sweet and salt, but the effect sizes were very low, suggesting that the PTC strip does not give a complete picture of tasting ability. Next we investigated whether various seasonings could mask the bitter taste of vegetables and whether this varied with tasting ability. We found that sugar decreased bitterness and lemon decreased liking for vegetables of varying degrees of bitterness. The results did not differ by ability to taste any of the flavors. Therefore, even though there are remarkable individual differences in taste perception, sugar can be used to improve the initial palatability of vegetables and increase their acceptance and consumption.

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2012

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Sensory-motor mechanisms unify psychology: motor effort and perceived distance to cultural out-groups

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ABSTRACT This thesis proposes that a focus on the bodily level of analysis can unify explanation of behavior in cognitive, social, and cultural psychology. To examine this unifying proposal, a sensorimotor mechanism with reliable explanatory power in cognitive and social

ABSTRACT This thesis proposes that a focus on the bodily level of analysis can unify explanation of behavior in cognitive, social, and cultural psychology. To examine this unifying proposal, a sensorimotor mechanism with reliable explanatory power in cognitive and social psychology was used to predict a novel pattern of behavior in cultural context, and these predictions were examined in three experiments. Specifically, the finding that people judge objects that require more motor effort to interact with as farther in visual space was adapted to predict that people with interdependent self-construal(SC) , relative to those with independent SC, would visually perceive their cultural outgroups as farther relative to their cultural in-groups. Justifying this cultural extension of what is primarily a cognitive mechanism is the assumption that, unlike independents, Interdependents interact almost exclusively with in-group members, and hence there sensorimotor system is less tuned to cross-cultural interactions. Thus, interdependents, more so than independents, expect looming cross-cultural interactions to be effortful, which may inflate their judgment of distance to the out-groups. Two experiments confirmed these predictions: a) interdependent Americans, compared to independent Americans, perceived American confederates (in-group) as visually closer; b) interdependent Arabs, compared to independent Arabs, perceived Arab confederates (in-group) as closer; and c) interdependent Americans, relative to independent Americans, perceived Arab confederates (out-group) as farther. A third study directly established the proposed relation between motor effort and distance to human targets: American men perceived other American men as closer after an easy interaction than after a more difficult interaction. Together, these results demonstrate that one and the same sensorimotor mechanism can explain/predict homologous behavioral patterns across the subdisciplines of psychology.

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2013