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Eating Behaviour – Neophobia and Taste Aversion

5. Summary

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In this lecture, we think about the necessary role food preferences and avoidances play in our survival, focusing in particular on: (i) reiterating the evolutionary basis of food preferences being the high calorie foods and essential nutrients, while avoidances are the tastes associated with toxic or spoiled foods; (ii) neophobia, as a reluctance to consume novel flavours, with the evolutionary basis being the avoidance of potentially dangerous substances; (iii) food neophobia being only a partial rejection of novel tastes, to allow us to explore new flavours safely; (iv) the classical view that taste aversion was evidence of biological preparedness to learn associations which will help us survive; (v) the modern research, which suggests that the ‘fit’ between cues and consequences, namely timeframe, is a more representative explanation for the effectiveness of this rapid pairing.


In this course, Professor Dominic Dwyer (Cardiff University) explores neophobia and taste aversion. In the first lecture, we think about the evolutionary background of feeding, including the reasons behind our preferences and avoidances for particular tastes. In the second lecture, we think about neophobia and its evolutionary function which stops the ingestion of large quantities of potentially unsafe substances. In the third lecture, we think about the classic understanding of taste aversion as a specialised function to enable the rapid learning of taste and illness pairings. Next, we think about some modern research which proposes that rapid learning is enabled more so by the ‘fit’ of the stimulus, in factors such as the length of time the experience lasts. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about the overall evolutionary functions that each of these taste and food related adaptations provide.


Professor Dominic Dwyer is the chair for the BSc and MSc exam boards in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. Professor Dwyer teaches introductory statistics for undergraduate years one and two. Professor Dwyer’s research is primarily focused on how animals and people learn, as well as how that learning is expressed as behaviour. Some key focus areas of this research are computational modelling, neurodegenerative disorders, and the assessment of individual differences. Some of Professor Dwyer’s recent publications include 'EXPRESS: Instrumental responses and Pavlovian stimuli as temporal referents in a peak procedure' (2022) and 'Face masks have emotion-dependent dissociable effects on accuracy and confidence in identifying facial expressions of emotion' (2022).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Dwyer, D. (2022, April 26). Eating Behaviour – Neophobia and Taste Aversion - Summary [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Dwyer, D. "Eating Behaviour – Neophobia and Taste Aversion – Summary." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Apr 2022,

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