Wanting and liking are both components of food reward, but they manifest in fundamentally different neural substrates. While wanting denotes anticipatory and motivational behaviors, liking is associated with consummatory and hedonic experiences. These distinct constructs have also been quantitatively dissociated in behavioral paradigms. Indeed, internal, physiological, and interoceptive states affect the degree to which the food presented is valued. However, how contextual sensory cues might impact these appetitive and rewarding responses to food remains unexplored. In light of the increasing empirical focus on sound in food research, we investigated the influence of environmental soundscapes on explicit liking, explicit wanting, implicit wanting, choice frequency, and reaction time of healthy/unhealthy food using an online version of the Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire (LFPQ). Soft nature sounds and loud restaurant noises were employed to induce emotional relaxation and arousal respectively. One hundred and one healthy university students completed a repeated-measure design of the LFPQ; once with each soundscape playing in the background. Generalized linear mixed model analyses detected a significant interaction effect between soundscape and food type on choice frequency, yet the post hoc analyses did not reach significance. No interaction effects between soundscape and food type on wanting or liking were discovered. However, hypothesis-driven analyses found that nature sounds increased explicit liking of healthy (vs. unhealthy) foods, while no effect of soundscape on any wanting measures (explicit or implicit) were observed. Finally, exploratory analyses indicated that restaurant noise (vs. nature sound) induced faster response times for both healthy and unhealthy foods. The study exemplifies that in an online setting, contextual auditory manipulation of certain food reward measures and decision processes is feasible.
- Consumer behavior
- Food reward
- Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire