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Trombones Elicit Bitter More Strongly Than Do Clarinets: a Partial Replication of Three Studies of Crisinel and Spence

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We present a partial replication of the crossmodal pitch/taste correspondence of Crisinel and Spence. Male college students (n=46) were asked to judge the pitch (F1–C4 on trombone; F3–C6 on clarinet) that best corresponded with each of four tastants (unsweetened coffee, unsweetened chocolate, salt, and sugar). With trombone there was a significant effect of tastant [F(3,135)=7.574, p<0.001, η2=0.144] with unsweetened chocolate being associated with the lowest pitch and sugar with the highest. With clarinet we did not find a significant effect [F(3,135)=2.468, p=0.065, η2=0.052]. The average across instruments was significant [F(3,135)=4.269, p=0.006, η2=0.087]. When looking at the effect of taster status, we found a significant correlation [r(44)=0.389, p=0.007] with supertasters associating the bitterness of a PTC strip with higher pitches than did nontasters — this is in contrast with Crisinel and Spence’s finding of no correlation with taster status. In light of the ‘replication crisis’ in psychology as found by the Open Science Collaboration, it is noteworthy that this crossmodal pitch/taste correspondence, at least for trombone, was replicated in a different lab.

Affiliations: 1: Wabash College, 301 West Wabash Ave., Crawfordsville, IN 47933, USA

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

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