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Relationship between the Influence of Others’ Opinions on Taste during Co-Eating and the Empathy of Individuals

DOI: 10.4236/jbbs.2018.84013, PP. 197-206

Keywords: Social Facilitation, Electrical Taste Threshold, Taste, GLMM

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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the opinions of people eating together affect the taste of the foods they eat. In addition, if the opinions of others influence taste for one of the people eating with them, are the others’ opinions related to the empathy of individuals? Finally, this study was also intended to consider whether the taste threshold changes depending on the opinions of others. Twelve healthy young women (aged 18.4 ± 0.8 years; mean ± SD) participated in the present study. The participants tasted bread under three conditions: 1) quiet condition: a participant ate with three quiet persons, 2) positive condition: a participant ate with three persons who were talking favorably about taste, and 3) negative condition: a participant ate with three persons who were talking negatively about the taste. The electrical taste threshold was tested before and after tasting the bread, and a visual analog scale (VAS) was completed immediately after the tasting. Before the first trial, participants were asked to complete the Interpersonal Reactive Index (IRI). In the positive condition, the taste score increased significantly compared with the negative condition. There was no significant relationship between taste and empathic concern. To our knowledge, taste changed according to the comments of other people who were eating together. However, the change in taste due to the other’s speech was not related to the individual’s empathy. The results of the present study suggest that people experience food as delicious when others eating with them comment about the food being “delicious,” and this tendency did not depend on individuals’ empathy.


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