Malleability of Taste Perception: Biasing Effects of Rating Scale Format on Taste Recognition, Product Evaluation, and Willingness to Pay


Product-related cues, such as brand or price, can influence consumers’ taste perception. Going beyond this observation, we examine the extent to which a stimulus-extrinsic factor, such as the format of the measurement tool on which consumers describe attributes of a taste sample, influences concurrent taste perception, and in turn, later taste recognition, overall product evaluation, and willingness to pay (WTP). The results of two experiments show that rating scale format (i) influences consumers’ concurrent impression of a taste sample, (ii) systematically biases later identification of the sample in a taste recognition test, and (iii) affects overall product evaluation and WTP. However, scale format (iv) does not influence ratings and downstream judgments when consumers are highly knowledgeable in the product domain. These findings demonstrate that the experience of taste is fleeting and not well represented in memory, and that like other subjective experiences, taste needs to be reconstructed based on accessible cues.

Mantonakis, Antonia, Norbert Schwarz, Amanda Wudarzewski, and Carolyn Yoon. “Malleability of taste perception: biasing effects of rating scale format on taste recognition, product evaluation, and willingness to pay” Marketing Letters 28.2 (2017): 293–303. Print.
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