Ethnic congruence of music and food affects food selection but not liking

Debra Zellner, Tamaru Geller, Sarah Lyons, Alexandra Pyper, Khadeeja Riaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Research investigating whether hearing a particular type of ethnic music will influence people to choose food from that same culture has found mixed results. Some studies found that when given a selection of different ethnic foods subjects were more likely to choose the food that was typical of the culture whose music was playing. Other studies have found no effect. The present study investigated the effect of instrumental Italian or Spanish music played in a university dining hall on the selection of either an Italian (chicken parmesan) or a Spanish (seafood paella) entrée. On two different nights both the Italian and Spanish entrée were available and students could select from those two entrees or other food choices. Italian music was played on one night and Spanish on another. The number of people who chose the two entrees was recorded on both nights. In addition, the hedonic ratings of the two entrees were obtained when either congruent or incongruent music was being played during the meal. On both nights more people chose the chicken parmesan than chose the seafood paella. However, there was a significant effect of the music on food choice. A significantly greater proportion of diners selected the paella over the chicken parmesan on the night when the Spanish music was played (34%) than on the night when the Italian music was played (17%). There was no effect of the type of music on liking for the food, possibly because the music was not as loud where diners were eating as where they ordered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-129
Number of pages4
JournalFood Quality and Preference
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Congruency
  • Ethnic food
  • Ethnic music
  • Food choice
  • Liking


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