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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology