Can you eat it? A link between categorization difficulty and food likability

Yuki Yamada, Takahiro Kawabe, Keiko Ihaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study we examined whether categorization difficulty regarding a food is related to its likability. For this purpose, we produced stimulus images by morphing photographs of a tomato and a strawberry. Subjects categorized these images as either a tomato or a strawberry and in separate sessions evaluated the food's eatability or the subject's willingness to eat (Experi- ments 1 and 2) and the likeliness of existence of each food (Experiment 2). The lowest score for ca- tegorization confidence coincided with the lowest scores for eatability, willingness to eat, and likeliness of existence. In Experiment 3, we found that food neophobia, a trait of ingestion avoidance of novel foods, modulated food likability but not categorization confidence. These findings suggest that a high categorization difficulty generally co-occurs with a decrease in food likability and that food neophobia modulates likability. This avoidance of difficult-to-categorize foods seems ecologi- cally valid because before eating we have little information regarding whether a food is potentially harmful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalAdvances in Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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