New study from BOKU: Measuring the unconscious
Lukas Danner from the ESN member BOKU (Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna) investigated two methods to measure unconscious reactions in consumers. The results indicate that the automatic analysis of facial expressions is promising and can be helpful in future studies to better understand consumers’ behavior.
Lukas Danner preparing an experiment at the University of Vienna (Photo: K. Duerrschmid)
From taste to tension
Lukas Danner used physiological responses of the autonomous nervous system (e.g. changes in skin resistance) as well as the participants’ facial reactions to six different juices. He found a negative correlation between skin conductance level and liking. Juices that were less appealing to the test persons tended to produce a higher increase in skin conductance levels than better liked juices. This reflects the fact that the test subjects reacted to an unpleasant taste with marked bodily tension.
With the help of Noldus FaceReader software, Lukas Danner analyzed the facial reactions to the six juices. The unpleasant samples caused markedly stronger reactions than did the pleasant samples. All the test subjects clearly exhibited more spontaneous negative than positive emotions.
Deeper Look into dietary behavior
Danner deduces that, “When testing for perceptions of taste, spontaneous facial expressions are a good indicator for disliking, but not for liking.”
Lukas Danner comes to the following overall conclusion: “Our studies indicate that the automatic analysis of facial expressions using FaceReader software and eye-tracking are extremely promising methods. They can be helpful in further studies, affording a deeper look into dietary behavior.”
Find a more detailed version of the study in our findings section