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Metacognition and Crossmodal Correspondences Between Auditory Attributes and Saltiness in a Large Sample Study

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-20, 10:37 authored by Qian Janice Wang, Steve Keller, Charles Spence
Mounting evidence demonstrates that people make surprisingly consistent associations between auditory attributes and a number of the commonly-agreed basic tastes. However, the sonic representation of (association with) saltiness has remained rather elusive. In the present study, a crowd-sourced online study (n = 1,819 participants) was conducted to determine the acoustical/musical attributes that best match saltiness, as well as participants' confidence levels in their choices. Based on previous literature on crossmodal correspondences involving saltiness, thirteen attributes were selected to cover a variety of temporal, tactile, and emotional associations. The results revealed that saltiness was associated most strongly with a long decay time, high auditory roughness, and a regular rhythm. In terms of emotional associations, saltiness was matched with negative valence, high arousal, and minor mode. Moreover, significantly higher average confidence ratings were observed for those saltiness-matching choices for which there was majority agreement, suggesting that individuals were more confident about their own judgments when it matched with the group response, therefore providing support for the so-called ‘consensuality principle’. Taken together, these results help to uncover the complex interplay of mechanisms behind seemingly surprising crossmodal correspondences between sound attributes and taste.


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