Effects of noise and distraction on alcohol perception

Lorenzo Stafford, M. Fernandes, E. Agobiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent research demonstrated that noise unconnected to the target stimulus can alter taste perception of food, but it is not clear whether similar effects might be seen with respect to alcohol. This is particularly important, as it might help explain previous reports of higher/faster alcohol consumption in loud music environments. In the between subjects experiment here, participants (n = 80) completed standardised taste and olfactory tests, followed by a taste test of alcoholic beverages varying in strength (0, 1.9, 3.9, 5.6, and 7.5 pct abv) in a randomly allocated distractive or control condition. Distractive conditions were either music, shadow (listening and repeating a news story) or shadow and music (S-Music). We found that exposure to music led to higher sweetness ratings compared to all remaining groups. Interestingly, discrimination of alcohol strength was impaired for individuals in the S-Music compared to remaining groups which was accompanied by increased negative mood. This is the first experimental work to demonstrate how music and other forms of distraction alter taste perception of alcohol and suggest a mechanism by which distraction leads to increases in alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-224
Number of pages7
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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