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Saltiness and pleasantness of soups were judged in four contexts defined by the relative frequency of stimuli high and low in sodium chloride (NaCl) concentration. Context affected judgments of saltiness such that a given stimulus was judged saltier when presented in a distribution including many low concentrations, less salty when higher concentrations were more frequent. Ratings of pleasantness were also affected by context; concentrations judged intermediate in saltiness tended to be rated maximally pleasant. In a second experiment, rate and method of stimulus presentation were manipulated to assess the possible role of sensory adaptation in the observed contextual effects. Although different presentation procedures had significant effects on judgments of saltiness, these effects had no impact on the size of the observed contextual effects.
context, exposure, sensory adaptation, receptor fatigue, taste preferences, salt taste, pleasantness
Monell Chemical Center, Philadelphia, Pa.