Estimating cross-cultural affective food experience using explicit self-report and implicit physiological measures.
MetadataShow full item record
Emotional attitudes toward food have recently been identified as an important factor in consumer behavior. Food-related emotions are typically measured using explicit self-report measures. However, these measures do not reliably reflect these emotions due to cultural response biases, making them less useful for cross-cultural studies. Implicit physiological methods could potentially resolve this issue as they reflect fast, non-conscious, and uncontrollable mechanisms. In this study, we compared explicit (self-report rating scales: valence, arousal, and hedonic liking) and implicit (physiological: heart rate and electrodermal activity) responses from Dutch and Thai participants towards ‘universal’ (molded and regular foods) and ‘cultural’ (Dutch and Thai foods) food pictures. The objective of the study was to investigate whether implicit physiological measures enable an objective comparison of core affective food experiences across cultures, without the cultural response biases that affect explicit measures. For both cultural groups, we expected that universal foods would elicit the same emotional responses, while cultural foods would yield a stronger affective response depending on food familiarity. We hypothesized that implicit measures would reflect the core affective response, whereas explicit measures were expected to reflect both differences in emotional experience with the food and cultural response biases (an extreme response style for Dutch participants and middle response style for Thai participants). The results for the explicit measures confirmed our hypotheses: valence and hedonic liking ratings were indeed higher for familiar than unfamiliar food pictures, while the ratings for universal pictures reflected the expected cultural response biases. The results for the implicit measures only partly confirmed our hypotheses: heart rate responses towards molded food pictures differed between cultural groups and electrodermal activity could not differentiate between the molded and regular pictures. Although there was a response pattern in the expected direction, implicit measures were only partially sensitive in differentiating between familiar and unfamiliar food pictures. In summary, we conclude that the explicit assessment of food-related emotions can indeed be culturally biased, whereas there are indications that physiological measures can provide more objective information about the experienced emotions.