Saucy Studies: Exploring Top-Down Processing in Taste Preferences
Our perceptions of every experience are much more complicated than they at first seem. My research seeks to explore the ways that previously acquired knowledge, prejudices, associations, etc., affect our perception (top-down processing). Specifically, I looked at the effects of the length of time in between the experience of a stimulus and subsequent acquisition of knowledge. My hypothesis was that telling people about the presence of tomato in a cupcake would have a greater negative effect on their preference for it if such information was revealed half an hour after trying it as opposed to immediately after. My reasoning was that after half an hour enough of the experience might have been forgotten so as to necessitate more top-down processing. After the revelation I asked them to record their preference of cupcakes on a comparative scale. I also performed a preliminary study comparing the effects of knowledge acquisition before stimulus, immediately after stimulus, or not at all. Although this test was a replication of previous research, my results showed no significant effects. There was also no significant difference in the results of my experimental conditions. This may be an indication of various things. Perhaps there is no difference in effect based on the timing of knowledge revelation. Perhaps the idea of the presence of tomato isn't strongly negative enough to have a significant effect. Also, using cupcakes as stimulus may have interfered with results because of the difficulty in maintaining consistency of dryness and flavor.
Robertson, Ellen, " Saucy Studies: Exploring Top-Down Processing in Taste Preferences" (2010). URC Student Scholarship.
Ford Research Endowment