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Cognitive Common Currency or Contextual Bargaining ? A new model for food preferences


"Research has for long focused on what people choose, not how they choose. In the domain of food choices, like elsewhere, the dominant model is that preferences are comparative judgments between quantities of sensory pleasure. Significant development lately in the cognitive neurosciences on the many roles of hedonic systems in choices and behavior have put pressures on this classical ‘common currency’ (Cabanac,1992) model of decisions. They stress the variety of low-level, automatic, sub-personal influences bearing on food choices, and show that behaviour can be ‘nudged’ in context (Thaler & Susstein, 2008). This still doesn’t address the nature and the role played by food preferences at the conscious, personal level.
The objective is to provide such a model. The timely interdisciplinary methodology draws on cognitive sciences and philosophical models of the mind, advancing bridging the gap between the study of evaluative and perceptual processes. Guided by recent models in multi-modal flavour perception (Auvray &Spence, 2007), 4CB defends a model of contextual bargaining for food choices. It combines conceptual and experimental approaches, and is set up in the interdisciplinary Center for the Study of the Senses. It defends and puts to test two key proposals by distinguishing different kinds of preferences (contextual/automatic/reflective) and contextual influences on them (multisensory context and cognitive context of consumption). Consequences for the wider concept of ‘preferences’ and impact on heath and food policies are integral to the project."

Call for proposal

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Malet Street Senate House
WC1E 7HU London
United Kingdom

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Barry Smith (Prof.)
EU contribution
€ 192 349,60