The influence of Virtual Reality on taste perception

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Eating disorders or speci c food phobias are not uncommon nowadays. Measurements regarding these problems are generally di cult, due to the fact that mental disorders are intangible by nature. Virtual Reality (VR) can be a tool for measuring these disorders, through the simulation of eating environments. In this study we use VR to investigate whether or not incongruent vision could potentially be the key for solving for the aforementioned problems. Speci cally, we investigate whether test subjects can be deceived into thinking they are eating something else by creating a situation where there exists incongruence between the food eaten and perceived. This was investigated by 20 participants eating pieces of fruit in the VR environment, while seeing either the same or an entirely di erent type of fruit. After eating each piece of fruit, they were asked what fruit they tasted and what their ratings are for the sweetness, sourness, citrusness and bitterness of the fruit. The results provide an indication that it is possible to deceive the taste perception of people, but no statistical proof for this is found. In order to acquire more con dent results in future experiments, it is of importance that the VR environment is suffciently realistic, and that secondary factors such as ripeness and smell should be eliminated.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen