Visual contributions to taste and flavour perception
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Although not mentioned as a constitutive element of flavour, at least according to the International Standards Organization definition, there can be little doubt that what we see exerts a profound effect on our perception of and behavioural responses toward food and drink. While there are many attributes of the consumer's visual experience that may be relevant here, the majority of the research published to date has involved varying the hue and intensity of the colouration in beverages. Here, evidence is reviewed demonstrating how not only the colour of the food or drink, but also the colour of the glassware, the packaging, the plateware, the cutlery, and even the colour of the environment in which we eat and drink, can all exert a (sometimes dramatic) effect on our perception of, and response to, a variety of food and beverage products. Several potential explanations for these results are outlined, including in terms of expectancy effects, generalized priming, and the indirect impact of colour on mood, and thereafter of mood on food. Given the variety of ways in which what we see can affect our responses to food and drink (note that more than 200 studies have been published on this topic), it seems likely that some combination of these various explanations may well be needed in order to fully explain the range of effects that have been documented to date when changing the colour has been shown to influence the taste and/or flavour of food and drink.