Immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality have been recently explored in the field of food consumption studies from different perspectives. In a new study by VTT and Tampere University, consumers were asked to rate the wanting and liking of two different snacks in virtual eating environments that generated different emotional responses. The results indicate that a healthy snack is rated higher in a virtual reality environment that induces a more positive emotional response. The healthy snack was also rated at the same level as the unhealthy snack consumed in a plain (unimmersed) environment. However, the different virtual environments caused no differences in the hedonic evaluations of the snacks. Based on EEG and heart rate measurements, tasting a healthy snack might cause more cognitive processing compared to an unhealthy snack and thus the virtual eating environment has a smaller influence on the eating environment.
To conclude, virtual reality technologies might have the potential to support consumers’ eating experiences and healthy food choices by improving their evaluations of the products.
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