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Eating Behaviour – Neophobia and Taste Aversion

3. Taste Aversion

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In this lecture, we think about taste aversion, focusing in particular on: (i) the role that conditioning plays in learning positive or negative taste memories; (ii) Garcia and Koelling’s 1966 study on relating different consequences to food tastes, finding that illness was a more effective negative consequence than shock for conditioning rats against taste, but not for a click and light; (iii) evidence that shocks paired with taste can result in conditioning against that particular taste, but does not bring about the aversive facial expressions like taste paired with illness does; (iv) evidence that foods previously liked, when paired with an illness event, were then deemed to be bad tasting by humans, but those paired with negative non-illness events were not; (v) the overall view that this adaptive mechanism is in place to ensure we only learn to dislike a food when it is paired with a negative event that could be attributed to the food itself.


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).

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APA style

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

MLA style

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

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