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Full Access A weighty matter: The effect of spoon size and weight on food perception

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A weighty matter: The effect of spoon size and weight on food perception

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When deciding on a product’s quality, we often pick it up to gauge its weight. If it’s heavy enough, we tend to think that it is good quality. We have recently shown that the weight of a dish can affect the taste and quality perception of the food it contains. Here, we varied the weight of spoons in order to determine whether the weight or size of the cutlery might influence taste perception. Teaspoons and tablespoons were tested, with one of each spoon-size artificially weighted with lead hidden into the handle (teaspoons: 2.35 and 5.67 g, and tablespoons: 3.73 and 10.84 g). Participants tasted yoghurt from each spoon and rated the yoghurt’s perceived density, price, sweetness, and pleasantness. Four within-participant ANOVAs were used to test the effects of spoon size and spoon weight on each attribute. The perceived density of the yoghurt was affected by the spoon’s weight, with yoghurt from light spoons being perceived as thicker than yoghurt sampled from a heavy spoon. The perceived price of the yoghurt also varied with spoon weight such that lighter spoons made the yoghurt taste more expensive. The most reliable effect was an interaction between spoon weight and spoon size on sweetness perception: heavy teaspoons and light tablespoons made the yoghurt appear sweeter. These data support the growing body of research demonstrating that tableware (and silverware) can affect the consumer’s judgements without their being aware.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, GB

When deciding on a product’s quality, we often pick it up to gauge its weight. If it’s heavy enough, we tend to think that it is good quality. We have recently shown that the weight of a dish can affect the taste and quality perception of the food it contains. Here, we varied the weight of spoons in order to determine whether the weight or size of the cutlery might influence taste perception. Teaspoons and tablespoons were tested, with one of each spoon-size artificially weighted with lead hidden into the handle (teaspoons: 2.35 and 5.67 g, and tablespoons: 3.73 and 10.84 g). Participants tasted yoghurt from each spoon and rated the yoghurt’s perceived density, price, sweetness, and pleasantness. Four within-participant ANOVAs were used to test the effects of spoon size and spoon weight on each attribute. The perceived density of the yoghurt was affected by the spoon’s weight, with yoghurt from light spoons being perceived as thicker than yoghurt sampled from a heavy spoon. The perceived price of the yoghurt also varied with spoon weight such that lighter spoons made the yoghurt taste more expensive. The most reliable effect was an interaction between spoon weight and spoon size on sweetness perception: heavy teaspoons and light tablespoons made the yoghurt appear sweeter. These data support the growing body of research demonstrating that tableware (and silverware) can affect the consumer’s judgements without their being aware.

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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648288
2012-01-01
2016-12-08

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