Psychology is present everywhere. Emotions are something which is shown in almost everything we do. ‘Taste’ as the word suggests it is the ability to recognize the flavour of food or drink. As our world is full of diverse food options the taste also depends on the likability of the food. Now the main question here is how psychology is related to taste. The answer is that as the meaning of psychology which says study of mind and behaviour. Now when an individual is stressed or not feeling good, they might not eat food as the pleasure related to the food is transferred into the stress that they are dealing and thus this reduces their appetite. Conversely, when they are in a happy mood, they may like the food more and eat it with pleasure.
Emotional Impact of Food and Cultural Influence
Similarly, an individual has an expectation towards food. They may see beautiful-looking appetizing food and have the expectation of tasty food. If it does not meet their expectations, they may feel frustrated or angry and refuse to eat it. We have seen in our daily life when our mother or anyone cooks the food, we not like our mood gets spoiled and because of that the whole day gets ruined. It shows how much food effect a person’s emotions and feelings and how important it is for a person to function in day-to-day life.
We have also seen or experienced that people also stress eat. Stress eating is defined as the action or habit of eating or overeating as a means of relieving stress or anxiety. Also, the deliciousness of food is greatly associated with acquired learning. As seen in different cultures if a person from other culture tries a food which is new to them might not like that as much the people who have eaten that food for almost half of their lives. The psychology behind taste involves a complex interplay of sensory experiences, cultural influences, individual preferences and physiological factors.
Some key aspect that influences taste are:
Sensory perception is defined as the process by which organisms gather information from the external world to their sensory organs. As we know visual, auditory, gustation and olfaction are some of the major sense organs also known as sight, sound, taste and smell. Now how sensory perception is related to taste. it is because of two main aspects:
1. TASTE BUDS
The human tongue is the main part of the body to detects the taste of the food contains taste buds that can detect five primary tastes such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. This taste evaluates the flavor of food. The moment the food touches the tongue the taste buds get activated and start to do their work., and generates a few receptors in the body that start to recognize the taste of food. Sweetness is detected by receptors on the tip of the tongue. Sweet tastes are often associated with pleasantness and energy. studies have also shown that eating sweets, particularly chocolates increases the level of serotonin which is associated with happiness and overall, well-being. Sourness is detected by receptors on the sides of the tongue. sour taste is often associated with ripeness and spoilage.
- Saltiness is detected by the receptors on the front side of the tongue. It is often associated with savouriness and thirst. Bitterness is detected by the receptors on the back of the tongue it is often associated with toxins and poison. And umami is detected on the back of the tongue and throat and is associated with savoury and meatiness. These tastes increase certain hormones in an individual’s body which generates several emotions.
- According to research, it has been shown when people are happy or in a positive mood, they are more sensitive to sweetness and when they are in a negative mood, they are more sensitive to sourness.
It is another component that influences the taste of food. Aroma is the first thing that enhances the taste of food as it travels from to the olfactory receptor nose and increases the positivity experience of the food.
Colour also influences taste. as the colour perceived by human eyes allow them to make a guess about the flavour of that particular thing. Research has shown that even though there was no association to the actual flavour of the drink, the colour of drink was that highly influenced the participant guesses. so, the psychology of colour used by individuals help them to perceive different flavours.
Culture and environmental influences:
The world is diverse and consists of different countries, continents and different places. these innumerable places have different and unique food tastes which only that particular class or group of people may like and other cultures may not like that as much as them. India for example have different cultures and thus it has variety of food options but not everyone like that else they have their own different food options. there is also family and social influence as the preferences of family and peers may also influence the taste and also the food exposed during childhood plays an important part too.
As talked earlier the taste is also associated with psychological factors and emotions also. As past experiences with a particular food may influence the taste of it. Also, positive or negative memories related to that particular dish may influence its likeability. For example, if a person suffered from food poisoning after eating a certain type of food they may not order or eat that dish again as they have a bad experience related to it.
Emotional state may also influence the taste such as happiness or stress may affect the choices of the food, we want to eat, which might lessen the stress faced by the individual also known as stress eating. As it gives them immense pleasure and boost their energy levels. The taste of food also effects our personality as it has been shown that people who love chocolates, maybe flirty and sensual and those who love spice might be on the anger side of personality.
Genetics play a significant role in determining the preferences or taste of the food as some people may not like the taste of a particular thing because their parent also might not like the same. For example, it has been said that if the mother doesn’t like the taste of a particular food in her pregnancy it is most likely that the child will also not like that thing in their growing years. Also, some individuals are called supertasters because they are highly sensitive to a particular food especially bitterness. So, the taste also depends on the individual differences.
Evolutionary psychology suggests that taste preferences may have evolved to guide humans towards foods that provide essential nutrients and energy while avoiding harmful effects of that particular food.
Through exposure to certain things or a particular taste of a food may make it a habit to eat that taste again and again. Psychology does make a person feel emotions even in just tasting a particular food or a taste. This is the nature of psychology person feels these emotions in every part of life and in every aspect too. This makes one feel happy and sad, positive and negative both at the same time. We also feel the need to make and taste different food of various cultures. Biopsychology plays a major role in determining the different taste and the psychology of taste mainly from receptors to neurotransmitters it includes everything.