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Emotion. 2013 Dec;13(6):1142-9. doi: 10.1037/a0033758. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

What do love and jealousy taste like?

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Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore.


Metaphorical expressions linking love and jealousy to sweet, sour, and bitter tastes are common in normal language use and suggest that these emotions may influence perceptual taste judgments. Hence, we investigated whether the phenomenological experiences of love and jealousy are embodied in the taste sensations of sweetness, sourness, and bitterness. Studies 1A and 1B validated that these metaphors are widely endorsed. In three subsequent studies, participants induced to feel love rated a variety of tastants (sweet-sour candy, bitter-sweet chocolates, and distilled water) as sweeter than those who were induced to feel jealous, neutral, or happy. However, those induced to feel jealous did not differ from those induced to feel happy or neutral on bitter and sour ratings. These findings imply that emotions can influence basic perceptual judgments, but metaphors that refer to the body do not necessarily influence perceptual judgments the way they imply. We further suggest that future research in metaphoric social cognition and metaphor theory may benefit from investigating how such metaphors could have originated.

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