Published on January 24th, 20140
Why does love taste sweet and jealousy bitter?
Even water seems sweeter when we are in love, suggests new research.
But not every emotion arises such sensations. For example, jealousy leaves us bitter or salty taste, literally, despite the metaphors that suggest this.
The fact that love changes the sensory perception of the individual, but jealousy fails to have the same effect, it is quite important for scientists studying “embodied metaphors”, ie how language influences what we feel.
For example, previous studies have shown that people who feel lonely perceive a lower temperature in the room, compared to those who had partners with them.
“But just because there is a metaphor, it does not mean that we will have these sensations and effects on perception”, explained researcher Qin Kai Chan.
The taste of love
After studying previously completed research on emotional metaphors, Chan and his colleagues wanted to examine more deeply the phenomenon.
“I always say that «love is sweet». Let’s see whether this applies to love”, said Chan.
Because Chan speaks Mandarin, always wondered if jealousy influences how we perceive taste, given that in this language there is a saying ( “chi cu” ) describing the jealousy which translates to “ingest vinegar”.
Once they have conducted a survey at the National University of Singapore, which have ensured that the volunteers knew phrases like “love is sweet” and ” jealousy is bitter”, scientists have decided to conduct a series of experiments.
In the first two studies, scientists and volunteers were asked to write about an experience with either romantic love or jealousy, or about a trivial topic. Subsequently, scientists had the students taste either Ribena Pastilles (a sweet-and-sour gummy candy) or Meiji Morinaga bittersweet chocolates.
After the students (197 in number) have tested the candy noted how sweet, bitter or sour was every candy. Those who wrote about love have noted both candy’s as being sweet compared to those who had written about jealousy or about another topic. Also, scientists have found that jealousy seems to have influenced how people perceive taste because individuals who have written on this subject have noted the candy as being sour or bitter.
Then, in another phase of the study, scientists have conducted an experiment in November, which was attended by 93 other volunteers. This time, the subjects tasted water instead of candy. Experts told the subjects that they tested a new product and have asked to declare how sweet, bitter or sour it is. Again, love made the water taste sweeter — even though it had no real taste at all. Jealousy did not affect the water’s taste.
It was found that love makes people perceive food as sweet.
The finding is important for two reasons, experts say. First, the simple fact that even the water tastes sweeter when we think of love, shows that emotion do not act on receptors in the tongue. Instead, the effect seems to be the result of how the brain processes information about taste.
In the second place, the fact that the jealousy has no effect on the taste indicating that the language does not act alone to impact senses and metaphors have to go deeper. Therefore, experts assume that metaphors change perception but it develops only after many experiences.
The relationship between love and physical experiences of sweetness may form in childhood. Children begin their lives by consuming milk which is sweet. It is possible therefore that this can lead to associate a mother’s love with the sweet taste.
Source: Live Science