Ren et al., 2015.pdf - JSPR Article Sweet love The effects of sweet taste experience on romantic perceptions Journal of Social and Personal

Ren et al., 2015.pdf - JSPR Article Sweet love The effects...

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Article Sweet love: The effects of sweet taste experience on romantic perceptions Dongning Ren 1 , Kenneth Tan 1 , Ximena B. Arriaga 1 , and Kai Qin Chan 2 Abstract Terms of endearment such as ‘‘sweetie,’’ ‘‘honey,’’ and ‘‘sugar’’ are commonly used in the context of describing romantic partners. This article explores how a relatively subtle manipulation, namely taste sensations, might influence romantic perceptions of a non- established relationship. Consistent with predictions, results from Studies 1 and 2 ( n ¼ 280) showed that participants evaluated a hypothetical relationship, but not an existing relationship, more favorably when exposed to sweet taste compared to non- sweet taste control. Study 3 ( n ¼ 142) further showed that participants indicated greater interest in initiating a relationship with a potential partner when exposed to sweet taste, as compared to control participants. Implications for the role of sweet taste experiences in attraction and relationship initiation are discussed. Keywords Attraction, metaphors, romantic interest, romantic relationships, sweet taste Metaphors are used to represent relational bonds symbolically. In English, this is best captured by the oft-heard phrase, ‘‘love is sweet,’’ which brings to mind prevalent ideas of love and romance. For example, terms of endearment such as ‘‘sweetie,’’ ‘‘honey,’’ and ‘‘sugar’’ are commonly used with close others and especially in reference to roman- tic partners (with similarities in other languages, such as Mandarin, German, etc.). 1 Purdue University, USA 2 Behavioral Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands Corresponding author: Dongning Ren, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. Email: [email protected] Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2015, Vol. 32(7) 905–921 ª The Author(s) 2014 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0265407514554512 spr.sagepub.com J S P R at BAYLOR LIBRARY on January 11, 2016 spr.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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Recent research suggests that these terms may be more than mere metaphors (Chan, Tong, Tan, & Koh, 2013; Meier, Moeller, Riemer-Peltz, & Robinson, 2011). When words indicating sweet taste (e.g., honey or sweetie) are used in a romantic context of describing close others, they become cognitively mapped in such a way that triggering one concept (e.g., sweet taste) may make the other more accessible (e.g., romantic love). This article explores the idea that the experience of a sweet taste and the concept of love can become intertwined. This research specifically examines whether sweet taste experi- ences affect one’s romantic perceptions. We posit that sweet taste experiences may direct romantic perceptions in the form of romantic interest and evaluations of a potential romantic relationship. These romantic perceptions matter because they can orient people toward some romantic partners and/or away from others. Romantic perceptions can be the basis for initiating new relationships,
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