Perceived stimulus complexity and food preference development

C.M. Levy, A. MacRae, E.P. Köster

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    78 Citations (Scopus)


    The importance of perceived complexity, a 'collative property' as defined by [Berlyne, D. E. (1967). Arousal and reinforcement. In Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 1-110). University of Nebraska Press], to the dynamic development of preference was investigated. Eighty-six female and 82 male subjects rated their liking for and various collative properties of seven very similar orange drinks that differed only in perceived complexity as a result of adding small quantities of other flavours. This was done before and after giving each subject extended experience of one of the drinks, each being used equally often for this purpose. As predicted by the theory of [Dember, W. N., & Earl, R. W. (1957). Analysis of exploratory, manipulatory and curiosity behavior. Psychological Review, 64 (2), 91-96] exposure to a stimulus with a slightly higher complexity than an individual subject's optimally preferred level of perceived complexity, caused an upwards shift in that level, whereas exposure to a less complex stimulus had no such effect. Changes in the appreciation of the drinks predicted by the theory were also observed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)394-413
    JournalActa Psychologica
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • in-home consumption
    • fragrance complexity
    • extended-use
    • pleasantness
    • variety
    • determinants
    • familiarity
    • acceptance
    • exposure
    • boredom

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