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Investigating how tactile cues can influence people’s perception of healthy food.

School of Psychology and Sport Science

About the Project

Research Group: Centre for Societies and Groups

Proposed supervisory team: Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd ()

Theme: Consumer Psychology

Summary of the research project

Making sensible food choices can be a difficult task for many consumers. The importance of a healthy diet is something that is commonly debated in the media. For a long time researchers have focused on using visual input to guide the decisions people make. However, one factor that has recently gained scholars’ attention, but also plays an important role in creating the impression of food, is texture. Texture is a sensory property and functional manifestation of the structural, mechanical and surface properties of foods detected through the sense of vision, hearing, touch and kinaesthetic (Szczesniak, 2002). Specifically, tactile properties has usually been investigated through texture-taste interactions. However, haptic information, through the hands, can also affect the perception of food and in particular texture (e.g. Barnett-Cowan, 2010). For example, the texture of a plate has been found to affect both taste and mouthfeel ratings of food (Biggs et al., 2016). This coupled with the fact that there are many other studies (e.g. Jansson-Boyd and Patel, 2018; Jansson-Boyd, 2011) that have found tactile input to be of utmost importance when it comes to influencing people’s perception means that touch may also influence how food is evaluated.

The research literature lacks work on how food information received through our hands may influence perceived healthiness of foods. Hence, this is the focal point of this research. The successful candidate will investigate whether textured haptic food information can help guide consumers to evaluate food as being healthy. Furthermore, you will explore if haptically based food cues have an important role to play in the likelihood of consumption.

Where you’ll study

Cambridge -


This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available:

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Psychology PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

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