CfP: Special issue on “Auditory contributions to food perception and consumer behaviour” in Multisensory Research Journal


Auditory contributions to food perception and consumer behaviour

Edited by Prof Charls Spence (University of Oxford), Dr. Felipe Reinoso Carvalho (Department of Marketing, Los Andes University, Bogota, Colombia), Dr. Carlos Velasco (BI Norwegian Business School, Norway) & Dr. Janice Wang (Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Denmark)

What we hear affects the perception of what we taste, no matter whether we realize it or not. Both music and ambient soundscapes have been shown to bias what we choose to buy/order in shops and restaurants/cafes (Biswas, Lund, & Szocs, 2018; Zellner, Geller, Lyons, Pyper, & Riaz, 2017), typically without us realizing it. Meanwhile, a separate literature has developed over the last decade on the topic of ‘sonic seasoning.’ This is where music is especially chosen, or composed, in order to correspond crossmodal with the taste / aroma / mouthfeel / flavour (Crisinel el al., 2012; Reinoso Carvalho et al., 2015; Wang & Spence, 2016). Interesting questions here concern where such surprising correspondences come from, and elucidating the conditions under which corresponding vs incongruent (or no music) do, versus do not influence the tasting experience and eating behaviours (e.g., Hauck & Hecht, in press; Höchenberger & Ohla, in press; Lowe, Ringler, & Haws; 2018, Watson & Gunter, 2017), and the neural consequences/underpinnings of such almost-synaesthetic crossmodal interactions (Callan, Callan, & Ando, 2018). A branch of this literature has also examined ‘sensation transference’ effects – addressing questions such as ‘If you like the music more, do you like what you are eating/drinking more too?’ (Kantono et al., 2015, 2016). Auditory inputs that influence the perception of what we taste are not limited to environmental sounds. They also involve the sounds that derived from what we eat such as slurping, crunching, or smacking as well as speech sounds that we use to refer to specific foods (see Spence, 2015, for a review).


When what we hear becomes too loud, it is usually regarded as noise. The research shows that loud background noise, be it airplane noise, white noise, or restaurant noise, can affect both the taste of food and drink, as well as people’s ability to discriminate various aspects of their tasting experience (see Spence, 2014, for a review). Given the increasing noise levels in many restaurants and bars these days, there may even be a public health angle to this research. Finally, given the growing literature on music and soundscape’s influence on the multisensory tasting experience, there is a growing interest in using technology to synchronize auditory stimulation with the tasting experience (see Spence, 2019, for a review). This is a rich area for creative practice (see also The Chocolate Symphony at this year’s IMRF meeting) and submissions are also welcomed in this area, providing they connect to the multisensory science.

Hence, despite its inauspicious beginnings 70 years ago (see Pettit, 1958), research on auditory contributions to food perception and behaviour has exploded in recent years, with interest coming from the fields of cognitive neuroscience, marketing, food science, design, branding, public health and beyond. As such, now would seem like an excellent time to capture the growing interest and excitement in this area with a Special Issue dedicated to the topic.

Deadline for submissions 1st December, 2018. Queries regarding the suitability of specific submissions etc. should be directed in the first instance to



Biswas, D., Lund, K., & Szocs, C. (2018). Sounds like a healthy retail atmospheric strategy: Effects of ambient music and background noise on food sales. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 1-19.

Callan, A., Callan, D., & Ando, H. (2018). Differential effects of music and pictures on taste perception –an fMRI study. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Multisensory Research Forum. June, 14-17th June, Toronto, CA.

Crisinel, A.-S., Cosser, S., King, S., Jones, R., Petrie, J., & Spence, C. (2012). A bittersweet symphony: Systematically modulating the taste of food by changing the sonic properties of the soundtrack playing in the background. Food Quality and Preference, 24, 201-204.

Hauck, P., & Hecht, H. (in press). Having a drink with Tchaikovsky: The crossmodal influence of background music on the taste of beverages. Multisensory Research.

Höchenberger, R., & Ohla, K. (in press). A bittersweet symphony: Evidence for taste‐sound correspondences without effects on taste quality‐specific perception. Journal of Neuroscience Research.

Kantono, K., Hamid, N., Sheperd, D., Yoo, M. J. Y., Carr, B. T., & Grazioli, G. (2015). The effect of background music on food pleasantness ratings. Psychology of Music, 13, 1-15.

Kantono, K., Hamid, N., Sheperd, D., Yoo, M. J. Y., Grazioli, G., & Carr, T. (2016). Listening to music can influence hedonic and sensory perceptions of gelati. Appetite, 100, 244-255.

Lowe, M., Ringler, C., & Haws, K. (2018). An overture to overeating: The cross-modal effects of acoustic pitch on food preferences and serving behaviour. Appetite, 123, 128-134.

Pettit, L. A. (1958). The influence of test location and accompanying sound in flavor preference testing of tomato juice. Food Technology, 12, 55-57.

Reinoso Carvalho, F., Van Ee, R., Rychtarikova, M., Touhafi, A., Steenhaut, K., Persoone, D., Spence, C., & Leman, M. (2015). Does music influence the multisensory tasting experience? Journal of Sensory Studies30(5), 404-412.

Spence, C. (2014). Noise and its impact on the perception of food and drink. Flavour, 3:9.

Spence, C. (2015d). Eating with our ears: Assessing the importance of the sounds of consumption to our perception and enjoyment of multisensory flavour experiences. Flavour, 4:3.

Spence, C. (2019). Multisensory experiential wine marketing. Food Quality & Preference, 71, 106-116.

Wang, Q. (J.) & Spence, C. (2016). “Striking a sour note”: Assessing the influence of consonant and dissonant music on taste perception. Multisensory Research, 30, 195-208.

Watson, Q. J., & Gunter, K. L. (2017). Trombones elicit bitter more strongly than do clarinets: A partial replication of three studies of Crisinel and Spence. Multisensory Research, 30(3-5), 321-335.

Zellner, D., Geller, T., Lyons, S., Pyper, A., & Riaz, K. (2017). Ethnic congruence of music and food affects food selection but not liking. Food Quality & Preference, 56, Part A, 126-129.