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Sweet taste experience improves prosocial intentions and attractiveness ratings

Abstract

Taste-related terms such as bitter or sweet are often used to describe people’s behavior. For example, sweetness metaphors are often used when giving nicknames for romantic partners or when characterizing a friendly person. Previous studies have suggested that sweet taste may be linked to prosocial behavior. Examining a total of 517 participants, we here demonstrate that experiencing sweet taste also seems to have an impact on subsequent attractiveness ratings of faces. Participants were asked to rate pictures of young people and of art. Before this task, they were primed either with sweet candies or with salty snacks. Results revealed that sweet taste increased subsequent attractiveness ratings of faces. In addition, results confirmed earlier findings that sweet taste affected prosocial behavior. Our results suggest that sweetness seems to be more than a mere linguistic metaphor; it influences prosocial behavior as well as attractiveness ratings of faces. We discuss the results with recent findings of physical-to-psychological links to certain figures in speech.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Experiment 2 was primarily motivated to replicate the findings of taste experiences on face ratings of experiment 1. Thus, we here omitted the helping question (which has been examined before, e.g., Meier et al., 2012).

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Correspondence to Michael Schaefer.

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Schaefer, M., Reinhardt, A., Garbow, E. et al. Sweet taste experience improves prosocial intentions and attractiveness ratings. Psychological Research 85, 1724–1731 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01336-x

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