This research evaluated the effects of product familiarity on the sensory acceptability and physiological responses of consumers toward different food stimuli using two populations (Asian vs. Western). Two studies were conducted: (1) an online questionnaire and (2) a tasting session. For (1), n = 102 (60% Asians and 40% Westerners) evaluated 31 food items visually for familiarity and liking whereas for (2), participants (n = 60; 48% Asians and 52% Westerners) evaluated 10 different foods (tortoise jelly, chili slices, beef jerky, dried tofu, Vegemite®, durian cake, octopus chips, chocolate, corn chips, and wasabi coated peas) by tasting for familiarity and liking (visual/aroma/taste/texture/overall). A novel Android® app (Bio-sensory App) was used to capture sensory and non-invasive physiological responses (temperature, heart rate and facial expressions) of consumers. In (1), Asian and Western participants differed in their familiarity scores, visual liking ratings, and the selection of emotion terms for the stimuli. In (2), cultural differences affected familiarity and the liking scores of appearance, aroma, taste and texture of the products. While food stimuli marginally affected the physiological responses of consumers for both cultures, Asian participants elicited higher temperature values compared to those of Westerners. Both studies (1 and 2) showed that familiarity of food products was positively associated to sensory liking for both cultural groups. These findings are useful to understand consumers acceptability based on both sensory and physiological responses.
Keywords: Cultural differences; Facial expressions; Familiarity; Physiological responses; Sensory acceptability; Snacks.
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