It tastes better when Bach meets red: the role of music and plate color on food evaluation

Chloe Hyojin Cho, Anna Mattila, Peter Bordi, Eunjin Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of arousal fit between music (auditory cues) and plate color (visual cues) on food evaluations. Design/methodology/approach: A 2 (background music: high vs low arousal) ×2 (plate color: high vs low arousal) between-subjects experimental design was employed to test the hypotheses. Participants were recruited for a taste test in a food sensory lab located in a university in the northeastern USA. The dependent variable, food evaluation, was analyzed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Findings: The findings of this study indicate that when the two stimuli had congruent arousal qualities, participants rated the liking and perceived quality of a food item higher than those in the incongruent arousal conditions. More specifically, when the background music was high in arousal quality, participants gave higher evaluations for a food item served on a red (vs blue) plate. Conversely, when a low arousal music piece was played, a blue (vs red) plate resulted in higher food evaluations. Research limitations/implications: This study contributes to the growing literature on cross-modal correspondence on consumers’ product evaluations. Extending previous research on the congruity effect to the food sensory literature, this study demonstrates the joint effects of background music and plate color on taste perceptions. The results suggest that restaurant operators should be strategic in their choice of physical stimuli. Originality/value: The present study measured participants taste perceptions while they were exposed to visual and auditory cues. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that empirically demonstrates the impact of multiple environmental factors on taste evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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