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Extending the Boundaries of Sensory Marketing and Examining the Sixth Sensory System: Effects of Vestibular Sensations for Sitting versus Standing Postures on Food Taste Perception

Dipayan Biswas, Courtney Szocs and Annika Abell

Journal of Consumer Research, 2019, vol. 46, issue 4, 708-724

Abstract: Prior research has examined the role of the traditional five sensory systems (visual, olfactory, haptic, auditory, and gustatory) and how they influence food evaluations. This research extends the boundaries of sensory marketing by examining the effects of the vestibular system, often referred to as the “sixth sensory system,” which is responsible for balance and posture. The results of six experiments show that vestibular sensations related to posture (i.e., sitting vs. standing) influence food taste perceptions. Specifically, standing (vs. sitting) postures induce greater physical stress on the body, which in turn decreases sensory sensitivity. As a result, when eating in a standing (vs. sitting) posture, consumers rate the taste of pleasant-tasting foods and beverages as less favorable, the temperature as less intense, and they consume smaller amounts. The effects of posture on taste perception are reversed for unpleasant-tasting foods. These findings have conceptual implications for broadening the frontiers of sensory marketing and for the effects of sensory systems on food taste perceptions. Given the increasing trend toward eating while standing, the findings also have practical implications for restaurant, retail, and other food-service environment designs.

Keywords: sensory marketing; vestibular system; posture; food taste; physical stress; cross-modal effects (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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