ASQ - Statistics Division

When People Are The Instrument: Sensory Evaluation Methods

Abstract: This article presents the opportunities that arise when some attributes of certain products, e.g., food or perfume, are more naturally perceived by the human senses. Sensory evaluation is a field that measures product attributes perceived by the human senses. The article describes three main methods. The first method is Descriptive Analysis which describes attribute intensities without assessing liking for them. The second method is Acceptance Test, where an evaluator rates his liking of a sample. The third method is Discrimination Tests, or Difference Tests. These tests try to measure the likelihood that two products are perceivable differently. The most common of these tests is the Triangle Test. The results from Descriptive Analysis and Acceptance Tests can be displayed on rating scales. Designed experiments can play an important role in identifying variables that affect sensory attributes. Then you could use a regression analysis to relate liking scores to Descriptive Analysis. In summary, it is important to clearly state the questions that the researcher seeks to answer to design and execute testing with the appropriate sensory evaluation methods and statistical procedures in order to obtain more reliable human measurement.

Keywords: Sensory evaluation - Descriptive analysis - Acceptance test - Intensity - Liking - Discrimination tests - Difference tests - Sensory questions - Score sheets - Rating scales - Hedonic - Replication - Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)

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