Health

Does Taste Affect Judgment?

  People often say that “food is the most important thing for the people”, but there is actually a second half of this saying – “taste is the first thing in food”. When a plate of food is served in front of us, the first thought that comes to mind is often “what does it taste like”. The taste of food is the result of the joint creation of ingredients, condiments and cooking techniques, and people can taste the taste mainly by relying on the taste system in the mouth.
  Different foods have different tastes, which will bring different feelings to the taste system. However, sometimes taste not only brings the taste of food, but also affects people’s emotions and cognition. In recent years, some psychologists have found that taste can also affect human judgment.
Taste makes cognitive difference

  In daily life, people often mention five kinds of taste sensations, namely sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty. In fact, spiciness is essentially a kind of pain, a burning sensation that food brings to the mouth, so spiciness is academically defined as a compound taste combined with pain. If the spicy taste is excluded, in fact, human beings have four more basic taste sensations, namely sour, sweet, bitter, and salty.
  In recent years, researchers in the field of cognitive science have proposed that taste, as one of the most important senses of human beings, potentially participates in and even decisively affects people’s cognition, judgment and decision-making of the world. To put it simply, taste perception is not only our judgment on the taste of food; at the same time, the taste of food may in turn affect our judgment and decision-making on other things. Numerous studies have shown that different taste sensations can lead people to make very different judgments about the same thing.
  When it comes to sweetness, we often think of sweetness and beauty. In terms of interpersonal perception, relevant research has shown that sweetness can give people a sense of trust. For example, participants who drank sugary drinks were more likely to form friendly partnerships with others than those who drank unflavored distilled water. When judging the personality of others, people were also more likely to rate sweet tooth people as more approachable. In addition, sweetness can also make people more likely to engage in prosocial behavior. For example, in one experiment, participants who ate sweetened chocolate were found to be more helpful and cooperative than those who ate unsweetened biscuits.
  The bitter taste may be more likely to stimulate people’s imagination of “bitterness”. Studies have shown that bitterness can affect people’s desire to consume. After tasting the bitter coffee, the participants were less impulsive when shopping at the supermarket; even when they drank the bitter beverage while in a positive mood, people were still more inclined to consume less. When it comes to moral judgments, bitterness can also make a person stricter. For example, bitter beverages can trigger feelings of disgust in drinkers, leading to harsher judgments about moral violations.
  Compared with bitter taste, sour taste brings less negative feelings to people. In the face of long-term decision-making, people who taste bitter taste are more likely to feel survival crisis and hope to get cash rewards sooner; people who taste sour taste will consider options with appropriate delay and greater benefits.
  When it comes to salty taste, people tend to think of some “heavy taste” food. Generally speaking, salty foods tend to be high in oil, high in salt, and high in calories. Therefore, when people judge the calories of food subjectively, they often think that salty foods are higher in calories and less healthy than bland foods.
  Finally, let’s talk about the most pungent spiciness. Studies have found that there is a positive correlation between eating spicy food and the personality trait “seeking novel sensations”. That is to say, people who like spicy food are more tentative, willing to take risks, have stronger adventurous spirit, and are more likely to make high-risk behaviors. People were also more likely to think spicy eaters were more extroverted when inferring other people’s personalities.
How Taste Affects Judgment

  Many studies have found that different taste sensations can affect people to make different judgments, most of which are not directly related to the food itself. Why should the taste of food affect people’s judgments on otherwise unrelated matters?
  From the perspective of emotional factors, taste can trigger people’s different emotional reactions. Brain Science Imaging studies have shown that viewing photos of a partner activates similar brain regions as participants tasting sweet candy. That is to say, when people eat sweets, they will have the same pleasant emotions as falling in love. As one of the innate reactions of human beings, emotion itself will affect people’s behavior. For example, babies may frown, shake their heads, or swing their arms when they feel rejection, anxiety, and other emotions, and babies will also have the same behavior when they taste bitter tastes.

  From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, the influence of taste on judgment can be traced back to the era of human ancestors. The sensory organs of the human body provide essential information for human survival and help humans adapt to changing external environments. Taste, as a human sensory organ, can guide humans to successfully ingest nutritious food and protect the survival and reproduction of organisms. For example, a bitter taste means that the food may contain toxins and requires vigilance; a sweet taste often means that the food is rich in energy and is safe.
  Like many animals, humans have a preference for foods high in sugar. In 2020, researchers at the Zuckerman Institute of Columbia University discovered a sugar perception mechanism independent of taste, which activates neurons in the vagal ganglia and brainstem through the gut-brain axis, making animals sensitive to sugar. Classes generate strong preferences. That is to say, the influence mechanism of taste on psychology and behavior is actually closely related to the physiological needs of human beings.
  From a sociological point of view, the influence of taste is also closely related to culture. The acquisition of human individual knowledge not only comes from one’s own experience, but also is related to the cultural environment in which one lives. Taste itself forms a connection with its experience, becoming a metaphorical abstraction. For example, sweetness makes individuals feel happy, and this taste is associated with concepts such as “happiness” and “happiness”, which is extended to the interaction of social life, such as describing a happy smile as “sweet”, beautiful love Relationships are “sweet”.
  In daily expressions, it is not uncommon to use words that use taste as a metaphor for other feelings, such as “bitter”, “sad”, “cruel”. Therefore, when people feel the actual taste conditions, the metaphor concepts related to this taste are often activated in the brain, which can potentially affect people’s judgment and decision-making.
memories on the tip of the tongue

  Knowing that taste can affect human judgment and decision-making, psychologists have also applied it to psychotherapy.
  In recent years, in the field of psychotherapy, some researchers have put forward the concept of “psychology on the tip of the tongue”. This theory believes that through the memory of a specific taste, you can search for psychological events that have a positive impact on the individual, thereby helping people get out of the psychological haze. These taste memories are like a unique “dish” in everyone’s heart, containing personal emotions and complexes, and representing extraordinary meanings. Relying on revisiting this taste memory, people can find their true inner thoughts, which helps to improve their emotional state and change their judgment and decision-making.
  In daily life, people often refer to concepts such as “the taste of mother” and “the taste of home”, which also reflect people’s memory of a specific taste. Many times, when we experience a familiar taste again, it will evoke memories of the past. These taste memories contain important beliefs that affect the real life of the rememberer. Sometimes, people will feel comforted or encouraged by the memories triggered by a certain smell; some people will be inspired by the memories and turn them into motivation to change reality, thus starting a new life course. It can be said that if we can make good use of the psychological impact of taste, we can not only improve our emotional experience and enhance our judgment, but also bring tangible changes to our lives.

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