Date of Graduation

8-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Food Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Food Science

Advisor

Han-Seok Seo

Committee Member

Jean-Francois Meullenet

Second Committee Member

Robert Harrington

Abstract

Managers of consumer goods companies (i.e., restaurants, grocery stores, and bars) have the potential to effectively utilize environmental factors to stimulate desired consumer behaviors. Background music has been identified as one of the most readily manipulated and influential elements to which a shopper or consumer may be exposed to in a service setting. Nevertheless, little is known about the effect of background sound on food perception and acceptance. This research sought whether background music genre and musical components can alter food perception and acceptance, but also to determine how the effect can vary as a function of food type (i.e., emotional vs. non-emotional) and source of music editor (i.e., single vs. multiple). In Experiment 1, single and multiple editors transposed the traditional music piece, "Air on the G String," into four genres: classical, rock, hip-hop, and jazz. The same music piece was edited into contrasting ends of musical components of tempo, pitch, and volume for Experiment 2. According to a preliminary survey centering on the association between food and emotion, milk chocolate (emotional), and bell pepper (non-emotional) were selected as food stimuli for both experiments. Following consumption, participants rated flavor intensity, flavor pleasantness, texture liking, and overall liking using 15-cm line scales. In Experiment 1, participants liked food stimuli significantly more with the jazz stimulus as opposed to the hip-hop stimulus. Ratings of flavor pleasantness and overall impression for food stimuli only differed between the single editor genres. In Experiment 2, participants liked bell pepper flavor and texture significantly more with the fast tempo versus the slow tempo stimulus. Ratings of chocolate texture and bell pepper overall impression significantly heightened in the low pitch condition. In the loud volume condition, participants' evaluated flavor pleasantness, texture impression, and overall impression of chocolate significantly higher in comparison to the quiet and silent conditions. In summary, the present thesis presents new empirical evidence that music genre, components, and editor, along with food type can modulate food perception and acceptance. Furthermore, our findings assist food service industries in creating the most appropriate atmosphere by explaining observed consumer behaviors induced by musical stimuli.

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