Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Education and Human Services


Nutrition and Food Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Charles Feldman

Committee Member

Renata Blumberg

Committee Member

Shahla Wunderlich


A preliminary study was conducted (n=65) to compare the consistency of measurements of emotional reactions to salt intake using FaceReader (facial expression analyzer) and hedonic self-reports. Study participants tasted six different samples of mashed potatoes with three different concentrations of sodium (Na) (two samples of 0 mg, 178 mg, and 356 mg/15g each). Emotional reactions were measured with FaceReader and self-reported on a 10-point scale, and the mean for each of the different sodium concentrations was calculated. Six different emotional expressions were measured (happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, and disgusted) for each of the samples. Differences between the means for the two samples with the same sodium concentration were then compared. Our findings have indicated that the differences between the means were lower for FaceReader measurements. These findings occurred more frequently with 16 instances of greater consistency for FaceReader compared with two for hedonic self-reports. Therefore, FaceReader measurements provided more consistent emotional measurements for comparative sodium concentrations than were provided by hedonic self-reports. In particular, the emotions of “happy,” “sad,” “scared,” and “disgusted” were measured more consistently by FaceReader for all concentrations of sodium. FaceReader and hedonic self-reports provide similar results for “angry” and “surprised” .

Furthermore, the cultural background was examined and Primary Study was conducted (n=100) to find if cultural backgrounds have an effect on salt perception between American and immigrant groups, using FaceReader to measure their facial emotional reactions. The American group was comprised of 50 participants and, comparably, the immigrant group was comprised of 50 participants, in total the Primary Study included 54 males and 46 females. Our findings demonstrate that cultural background has a significant effect on people’s taste preference for salt. In particular, Americans have a higher salt preference than immigrants. The fast-food culture, and the increased availability of highly processed and affordable foods manufactured by big food companies in the United States are the main contributors for this difference. Future research in these areas are needed to explore these topics further.

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