Learned taste aversion

Essay by juhdkUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2014

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Cyril Desmedt Introduction to Psychology American English Writing Assignment #3 - Investigating Psychological Phenomena: Learned Taste Aversions (after Gleitman , 1999)Introduction:

A learned taste aversion is the aversion developed by an individual for a certain food that caused him an illness. John Garcia first discovered this phenomenon during his experiments on rats. After classical conditioning, rats associate the taste of the food (CS) with getting sick (UC). They therefore create an aversion for that specific taste. Garb and Stunkard (1974) conducted a study on learned taste aversion. They sent a questionnaire about such experience to 700 people. The results allowed Garb and Stunkard to confirm the basic properties of learned taste aversion in humans:

"Belongingness": aversion is always limited to the food and its taste. The aversion results most of the time from a gastrointestinal illness.

"One-trial learning": One pairing of food and illness is sufficient to create aversion that last for many years.

"Long CS-US interval": interval of several hours between ingestion of the food and the first symptoms.

"Novelty": Foods have not been eaten more than once or twice before the association with illness (45% of the time).

"Irrationality": The fact that the knowledge that the food was not responsible for the illness does not weaken the aversion.

This paper will discuss the methods, findings and interpretation of the interview of three persons who have experienced a 'learned taste aversion'.


I started by asking the first UCU students I came across whether they had ever experienced a learned taste aversion. I explained to them the basic phenomenon of taste aversion (without mentioning Garb's and Stunkard's five basic properties of learned taste aversion). I also made them read the introductory statement to make sure they understood the concept correctly. Three out...