Why a test that evaluates food disgust is social media's latest obsession | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

food test
food test
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Are you put off by a slightly moldy apple? Does the thought of someone else touching your food make you queasy? And how do you feel about eating insects?

We don’t all have the same level of tolerance when it comes to food. More importantly, we are not grossed out by the same things, and our risk-taking thresholds can be very different.

This is exactly what is measured by the “food disgust test,” currently all the rage on Twitter.

It is a highly serious test that has nothing to do with the kind of quizzes you might find in lifestyle magazines. This questionnaire was actually developed by Christina Hartmann and Michel Siegrist, two scientists from the Technical University of Zurich in Switzerland. Its development and validation are outlined in a paper published in the journal Science Direct.

The test consists of 32 questions, formulated as statements that you have to either agree with or disagree with. They touch on eight aspects of food that people can find repulsive: animal flesh, hygiene, human contamination, mold, decaying fruit, fish, decaying vegetables, and contaminating insects.

At the end, your level of food disgust is calculated as a percentage indicating whether it is high, low, or average.

What does it all mean?

Beyond the colorful circular chart that tells you what kind of food disgust triggers you are most repulsed by, the researchers shed light on the mechanisms of food disgust.

In some cases, it may be a primal reaction to protect ourselves from disease — the researchers even refer to human instinct when it comes to avoiding decomposing fruit. Or these aversions could be related to disease avoidance mechanisms when seeing food nibbled by a worm, for example.

The analysis suggests that disgust concerning vegetables may originate in childhood and can be difficult to change later in life. But there is also a cultural dimension to food disgust, especially when confronted with animal flesh.

A French gourmet’s mouth might water at the idea of frogs’ legs or snails, for example, while a Japanese consumer might not flinch at the idea of eating shirako, the seminal fluid of fish.

After being shared by the Twitter user @buttpraxis on April 18, the “food disgust test” quickly went viral, with users taking the test and posting their scores. If this test has become popular, it could be because the social media user behind the buzz immediately compared it to a famous personality test, the Myers-Briggs test.

This tool, often used by recruiters, evaluates how we interact with our peers, our environment, and our way of understanding the world, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a personality.

But, as the Twitter user points out, the “food disgust test” is probably a little more fun.

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