Personality traits in the context of sensory preference: A focus on sweetness

Paul Richardson, Anthony Saliba

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


It is well known that people have individual taste preferences. Of the basic tastes, sweetness appears to be regarded universally as pleasant and rewarding, whilst sour or bitter tastes have traditionally been typified as unpleasant and even avoided (e.g. Steiner, 1977; Anliker et al., 1991). Researching the processes involved in taste preferences have generally focussed on a variety of factors such as biology (Mennella et al., 1995), learning (Birch & Marlin, 1982), cultural background (Bourdieu, 1984) and socioeconomic influences (Drewnowski, 2003). The link between personality traits and food preferences date back centuries (Stone & Pangborn, 1990; Venkatramaiah & Baby Devaki, 1990). Early findings supported the rather intuitive and seemingly plausible association between personality traits and taste preference (e.g. people with a high degree of sensation-seeking behaviour preferred the taste of spicy foods - Terasaki & Imada, 1988). However, as critiqued by Goldberg & Strycker (2002), these early studies included rather disparate and varied measures of personality thus precluding comparison of findings; and in contrast to more contemporary publications, were rather limited in scope (Goldberg & Strycker, 2002). Previous research tended to focus on personality variables and taste preferences in 'restricted samples' such as those with disorders such as obesity (Elfhag & Erlanson-Albertsson, 2006), alcoholism (Kampov-Polevoy et al, 1998), and anorexia and bulimia (Drewnowski et al., 1987; 1995). However, there still remains a relative lack of data and published studies on this topic, and accordingly the relationship between personality traits and taste preference is only beginning to become established (Day et al., 2008; Day, 2009 ).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of behavior, food and nutrition
EditorsVictor R. Preedy, Ronald Ross Watson, Colin R. Martin
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780387922713
ISBN (Print)9780387922706
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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