"When you have physiological responses that are high on each scale, that's good, it shows excitement," he said. "If they score low on both scales, the reaction suggests boredom."
Scoring high on the liking scale but low on the arousal scale can indicate relaxation, he says, an important component for product developers who want to make products that help consumers unwind.
"Right now, companies can't accurately measure an emotional connection to their products, and consumers can't articulate it because it's unconscious," Simons says.
"We are creatures of vision, and so we can be very descriptive of things we see. But we don't have the vocabulary to describe our reactions to things we taste and smell, so we're looking for other ways to measure those reactions."
The new labs, plus two new consumer sensory testing booths nearby, will vastly enhance the traditional Sensory Testing Services currently offered by the department, he says.
Simons sees extensive opportunities for research using the new facilities.
"The majority of new food products fail once they get on the market, and that's after extensive consumer tests are done," he said. "With better ways to measure consumer responses to new products, we can help companies improve their success rate.
"That could be especially important for healthier versions of processed foods. Let's face it, processed foods are a reality. Let's make them healthy, and keep them as rewarding to consumers as what's currently available."
In addition, new ways to study subconscious reactions to environmental cues and how they affect hunger and intake can provide fresh insights into obesity research, he said. Reaction to such cues could also be used in studies of drug and alcohol abuse and smoking cessation programs.
Simons, who has joined the university's Food Innovation Center and Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, came to Ohio State after nine years at Givaudan Flavors Corp. in Cincinnati, where he led the sensory research function. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-688-1489.
Source: OSU Extension.