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Open Access Open Badges Research

Does the type of receptacle influence the crossmodal association between colour and flavour? A cross-cultural comparison

Xiaoang Wan12*, Carlos Velasco2, Charles Michel2, Bingbing Mu1, Andy T Woods3 and Charles Spence2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University, Qinghua Yuan, Beijing 100084, China

2 Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3UD, Oxford, UK

3 Xperiment, Lausanne, Switzerland

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Flavour 2014, 3:3  doi:10.1186/2044-7248-3-3

Published: 25 February 2014



We report a cross-cultural study designed to investigate whether the type of receptacle in which a coloured beverage is presented influences the colour-flavour associations that consumers make. Participants from the United States of America (USA) and China were shown photographs of red, green, yellow, blue, orange, brown, and clear liquids in a water glass, a wine glass, a cocktail glass, and a plastic cup.


The two groups of participants exhibited different colour-flavour associations for the green, yellow, orange, and brown drinks when these were presented in the different receptacles, suggesting some interesting interactions between the receptacle, colour, and flavour. Cross-cultural differences were also observed in the colour-flavour associations for red and blue drinks that were independent of the type of container in which the drinks were presented.


These findings highlight the existence of an interaction between contextual factors (the receptacle in which a drink is presented) and the cultural background of our participants (China versus the USA) in terms of colour-flavour associations. Such results raise interesting questions regarding the underlying mechanisms responsible for these effects.

Colour-flavour interactions; Tableware; Cross-cultural difference; Contextual factors