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Tasting Liquid Shapes: Investigating the Sensory Basis of Cross-modal Correspondences

Abstract : Numerous cross-modal associations bearing on food perception and evaluation have been highlighted. Some of them hold between apparently disconnected features like musical instruments and basic tastes, or pitches and flavors, raising questions regarding their perceptual grounding. In the present study, we investigated whether there are any such cross-modal correspondences between shapes and flavors of liquids, as suggested by the reports that certain beverages taste round or sharp, which bypass the associations made on the basis of visual characteristics of the products or their names. Participants took part in a blind matching task in order to measure the consistency of the association between samples of beer presenting different flavor characteristics and a large set of images of 2D and 3D shapes. Participants were then asked to provide descriptors for the perceived flavor characteristics of the tasted samples. Analysis of the participants’ responses revealed no overall dominance of 2D or 3D shapes but highlighted the existence of a significant correspondence between sweetness, voluminousness, and roundness and between bitterness, thinness, and angular shapes. The study suggests that a perceptual correspondence, rather than a purely linguistic association, is at stake. Hypotheses and guidelines for future investigation are offered to understand better the nature of this correspondence.
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Ophelia Deroy, Dominique Valentin. Tasting Liquid Shapes: Investigating the Sensory Basis of Cross-modal Correspondences. Chemosensory Perception, Springer Verlag, 2011, 4 (3), pp.80-90. ⟨10.1007/s12078-011-9097-1⟩. ⟨hal-02180567⟩



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