Do Natural Pictures Mean Natural Tastes? Assessing Visual Semantics Experimentally

Viktor Smith, Daniel Barratt, Henrik Selsøe Sørensen

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    A widespread assumption in Danish consumer law is that if the package of a food product carries a picture of a potentially taste-giving ingredient (say, a strawberry), then consumers will expect the corresponding taste to stem primarily from that ingredient rather than from artificial flavouring. However, this is not expected to be the case if the packaging carries only a verbal indication of the potential ingredient (say, the word strawberry). We put these assumptions to experimental test. Our goal was to contribute firmer evidence to the legal decision-making in the present field while at the same time providing new perspectives and data to the general theoretical debate on the communicative potential of pictures versus words. Our findings showed that pictures did have an effect on assessments of naturalness that was however marginal compared to that of product type. Moreover, participants’ general level of food knowledge had a significant influence on their expectations about naturalness.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCognitive Semiotics
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)53–86
    Number of pages34
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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