SENSORY PERCEPTION: BATTLE OF THE SEXES
by Dr. Marli Botha
When comparing the sense of taste and smell between men and women in how they identify flavour, should we expect a difference? If our male ancestors hunted and our female ancestors gathered plant-based foods, who could benefit from having a strong sense of smell and taste?
Here are some interesting facts about tasting abilities between genders… no offense gentlemen…
- Most sensory panellists are women. Sensory panellist are chosen based on their ability to differentiate between five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Only 10%-15% of the population have the sensory acuity to be a sensory taste panellist, women always do better when given a consumer sensory test. Women’s superior natural ability to differentiate between the basic tastes could be anthropologically connected to mothering. (https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/06/women-are-better-tasters/)
- Women need a lot less training to get to the same level of tasting as men – they can pick up stuff naturally. However, when trained as panellist both sexes are able to perform as sensory taste panellist.
- In studies, women were found to be better at determining the differences in tastes — and even better at describing how things taste. Women are also more likely than men to be supertasters. During a study of 4,000 Americans, 34 % of the super taster were women compared to the 22 % men of the study population. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/014976349500042D).
- The study concluded that boys needed food to be at least 10 % more sour or 20 % sweeter to achieve the same taste-detection levels as the girls. Curiously, the boys in this study preferred sweeter and more extreme flavour’s than did the girls. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216104035.htm)
- Women of reproductive age could, with some training, identify odors at concentrations up to 11 orders of magnitude lower than men who’d started out with similar experience with the smell. The experiments also suggest that hormones and attention are working together, it’s not that women are super sensitive to everything women are a little better when they focus their attention on a smell. (https://www.nature.com/articles/nn803)