University of Twente Student Theses


Sweets in my beat, sugar for my money? : The effects of high-pitched background music on consumers’ choice of sweet food products

Quekel, Merel (2016) Sweets in my beat, sugar for my money? : The effects of high-pitched background music on consumers’ choice of sweet food products.

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Abstract:OBJECTIVE: In this study the effect of musical pitch on sweet food cravings and food choice is explored. It is known that females are more sensitive to high-frequency sounds than males. Females also extremely like and crave sweet foods that contain much fat, like pastries and cake. Therefore, it is explored if females choose more sweet food products than males when exposed to high-pitched music. It is also argued that people who have a high food craving trait are more sensitive to sweet food cravings and therefore choose more sweet food items than people with a low food craving trait when exposed to high-pitched music. Females are expected to score higher on this trait. DESIGN & METHODS: A 3 (Music: low-pitched music vs. high-pitched music vs. no music) x2 (low food craving trait vs. high food craving trait) between-subjects design is used here (N=212). Results of males and females were also compared. Participants completed an online survey in the Starbucks store at the University of Twente. In the music conditions a part of the questions had to be filled in while listening to high- or low-pitched music. RESULTS: No main effects of music condition on the level of sweet food cravings and the amount of sweet food items chosen were found. Although the effects of music were expected to be more pronounced for females, no gender differences were found. Participants with a high craving trait indeed had higher sweet food cravings and did also choose more sweet food items than participants with a low food craving trait. However, this was not dependent on the music condition where they were in. No significant gender difference was found for food craving trait. CONCLUSION: Several factors can trigger food cravings, however musical pitch did not appear to be one of them in this study. The procedure of the study could however have negatively affected the results, therefore future research is needed. Food cravings are acommon phenomenon and contribute to people’s eating behaviour and therefore indirectly to people’s health. More future research is needed to identify environmental factors that affect food cravings and food choice. Findings might be useful for health education purposes and for restaurants. They should however be used with keeping the consumer’s health in mind.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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