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Ciencia y Tecnologa Alimentaria

Sociedad Mexicana de Nutricin y Tecnologa de Alimentos


somenta@gmail.com

ISSN (Versin impresa): 1135-8122


ISSN (Versin en lnea): 1696-2443
MXICO

2007
M. Mata / O. Gonzalez / D. Pedrero / A. Monroy / O. Angulo
CORRELATION BETWEEN PERSONALITY TRAITS AND DISCRIMINATIVE ABILITY
OF A SENSORY PANEL
Ciencia y Tecnologa Alimentaria, julio, ao/vol. 5, nmero 004
Sociedad Mexicana de Nutricin y Tecnologa de Alimentos
Reynosa, Mxico
pp. 252-258

Red de Revistas Cientficas de Amrica Latina y el Caribe, Espaa y Portugal


Universidad Autnoma del Estado de Mxico
http://redalyc.uaemex.mx

SOMENTA

Sociedad Mexicana de Nutricin


y Tecnologa de los Alimentos

Cienc. Tecnol. Aliment. 5(4) 252-258 (2007)


www.somenta.org/journal
ISSN 1135-8122

CIENCIA Y
TECNOLOGA
ALIMENTARIA

CORRELATION BETWEEN PERSONALITY TRAITS AND DISCRIMINATIVE ABILITY


OF A SENSORY PANEL
CORRELACIN ENTRE RASGOS DE PERSONALIDAD Y HABILIDAD DISCRIMINATORIA DE UN
PANEL SENSORIAL

Mata, M.1; Gonzalez, O.1; Pedrero, D.2; Monroy, A.1; Angulo, O.1*
1

Unidad de Investigacin y Desarrollo en Alimentos. Instituto Tecnolgico de Veracruz. M.A. de Quevedo 2779,
Veracruz, Ver. 91860. Mxico.
2
Pentasensorial S.A. de C.V, Santa Catalina. 313, Col. Del Valle, 03100, Mexico, D.F.
Recibido/Received 05-12-2006; aceptado/accepted 23-02-2007
*Autor para la correspondencia/Corresponding author. E-mail: oangulo@itver.edu.mx

Abstract
The correlation between personality traits and judge performance was studied. The 16-personality factors questionnaire of
Cattell was applied to 200 participants. Judge performance was evaluated following a series of taste and odor tests. Judges
were then asked to rank basic different taste solutions. Finally, judges discriminated between purified water and sweet
solution (29 mM) using the triangle test. Participants health habits (smoking and alcohol consumption) were reported.
Results showed that, out of 200 recruited participants, 66 were found discriminators. No correlations between judge
performance and health habits were found. Two personality traits were correlated to sensory discrimination ability: The
serious type personality was correlated to discriminators, while the experimenting type personality correlated to nondiscriminators. These results suggest the importance of using personality trait tests during sensory judge selection.

Resumen
Los rasgos de personalidad y la capacidad discriminatoria de 200 candidatos a jueces sensoriales fueron estudiados. Los
rasgos de personalidad se evaluaron a travs del cuestionario de factores de personalidad de Catell y el desempeo de los
jueces se evalu con pruebas de reconocimiento de olor y de sabor, pruebas de ordenacin a diferentes niveles de dulzor y
pruebas discriminatorias entre soluciones de sacarosa al 29 mM y agua purificada, usando la prueba triangular. Algunos
hbitos de salud de los participantes (fumar y consumo de alcohol) fueron reportados. Los resultados mostraron que de los
200 participantes, 66 resultaron ser discriminadores. No se observ correlacin entre los hbitos de salud y la capacidad
discriminatoria de los jueces. Dos rasgos de personalidad presentaron correlacin con la capacidad discriminatoria de los
jueces: La personalidad seria se correlacion con jueces discriminatorios en las pruebas sensoriales, mientras que la
personalidad experimentador se correlacion con candidatos sin capacidad discriminatoria. Estos resultados sugieren la
importancia del uso de pruebas de personalidad en la seleccin de jueces sensoriales.
Keywords: Personality traits, sensory panel screening, sensory evaluation
Palabras clave: Rasgos de personalidad, seleccin de panel, evaluacin sensorial
INTRODUCTION

measurement of their attributes either by picking out


differences (Difference tests) or by describing attributes
(Scaling tests) (OMahony, 1995). The selection of
panelists is done in different ways depending on the
purpose of the research (Pillsbury and Hudson, 1990).
Sometimes, a short screening on product sensitivity might
be sufficient to select a group of panelists. In other cases,
a complete set of tests might be necessary to find out about
life style habits and food frequency consumption (Hough
et al., 1995). In either case, information related to health,
age and product sensitivity by the panelists has been noted
to be important. Some authors suggest that aspects such as
intelligence, comprehension, concentration and motivation

The quality of the sensory attributes of foods plays


an important task in product acceptance (Cardello et al.,
2000; Costell, 2002). The food industry applies the sensory
techniques to understand the sensory attributes that would
allow for the product to stay successful in the market as
long as possible. The two big branches in sensory
evaluation are: Consumer testing and analytical testing.
The sensory attributes of a product are measured by using
analytical methodology that implies the formation of a
group of panelists. Panelists are expected to be sensitive
to the stimulus being evaluated and well trained in the

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Mata et al.: Correlation between personality traits...

should be considered upon panel selection (Krum, 1955;


Dawson et al., 1963; Martin, 1973 and Armstrong et al.,
1997). The 16-personality factors questionnaire (16FP)
was designed for basic research in psychology to describe
the short-term personality traits, which predict human
behavior in normal young adults (Setzer, 2000). Henderson
and Vaisey (1970) studied the relationship between
personality traits and judge performance in a non-trained
group. They found a correlation between high motivation
and high discriminatory judging ability. Pangborn and
Solms (1987) found a correlation between motivation, nonconfident, and outgoing personalities, measured by the
16FP, with salt and sugar consumption by consumers.
Similarly, Shepherd and Farleigh (1986) reported a
correlation between anxiety and salt intake. In summary,
it appears that motivation and personality traits play an
important role in consumer behavior. However, judge
performance at a laboratory level has not been studied in
relation to personality traits. In this study, the personality
test of Cattell (Cattell et al., 1980) was used to test the
personality traits, which were then correlated to judge
performance in taste and odor identification and
discrimination tests.

triangle test. This test was used to rate performance


evaluating sensory differences between a sucrose solution
(29 mM) and purified water. Sequential analysis was
applied to discriminate between panelists performance
(Pedrero and Pangborn, 1989).
Statistical analysis
Data from the personality test were analyzed by chisquared ( ), where the variables were personality traits
frequency between discriminators and non-discriminators.
This statistical test was used because the data were
presented as frequency. The Pearson correlation coefficient
was inappropriate for frequency data, therefore, the
correlation between personality traits and judge
performance was tested by using the coefficient of
contingency (C), given by the formula:
2

C=

2
N + 2

(1)

where is calculated as usual. N is the total number


of judges tested. It is important to mention that C never
approached 1. The maximum value reached for the
contingency coefficient (Cmax) was 0.707, estimated by:
2

MATERIALS AND METHODS


Judge candidates were invited to participate in the
study by public invitation throughout the Instituto
Tecnolgico de Veracruz Campus in Veracruz, Mexico.
Candidates (200) were screened regarding time availability,
frequency of food consumption and motivation.
Information related to health status was also obtained from
the candidates. All participants were asked to take the 16FP
personality questionnaire, which contains 187 questions.
Time invested to complete the test was 35-45 min. This
test has been validated for the Mexican population (Cattell
et al., 1980).
Candidates were asked to identify each of the five
following basic taste solutions: Sucrose (29 mM), Sodium
Chloride (12 mM), Citric acid (2mM), Caffeine (2.5 mM)
and purified water. All reagents were purchased from
Sigma-Aldrich, Mexico. Candidates that identified each
of the stimuli (100% correct answers), were then tested
for odor discriminative ability by using the following
standards: Alcohol, powdered milk, vanilla extract,
peppermint, ground garlic, chocolate, cinnamon, dried
onion, powdered cheese, clove, and coffee. These materials
were obtained from the local market. Candidates with 75%
or more correct answers continued the testing (ASTM,
1981). Candidates were asked to rank the following
samples: Sucrose (29 mM, 43 mM, 58 mM, and purified
water), Sodium Chloride (12 mM, 13.6 mM, 15.3 mM,
and purified water), Citric Acid (2 mM, 2.5 mM, 3 mM,
purified water) and Caffeine (2.5 mM, 3 mM, 3.5 mM,
purified water). Candidates who achieved 70% or more
correct answers were then trained in the mechanics of the

C max =

k 1
k

(2)

where k is the number of categories in each


dimension (OMahony, 1986).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Two hundred interested people responded to the
call, only 143 were recruited based on their interest,
motivation and availability (Dawson et al., 1963).
Screening was done through verbal interviewing.
Henderson and Vaisey (1970) established rewards
depending on the achievement of the judge through verbal
stimulation and constant communication. In this study, care
Table 1. Some life styles of participants.
Tabla 1. Algunas caractersticas del estilo de vida de los participantes.

Male
(%)
22

Female
(%)
18

Non-smoking

78

82

Alcohol consumption

48

39

Non alcohol consumption

52

61

Chili eaters

46

38

Non-chili eaters

54

62

Characteristic
Smoking

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2007 SOMENTA

1996; Krut et al., 1961). Therefore, these habits were


reported in this study so as to evaluate its relationship with
judge performance. In this study, 22 % male and 18 %
female were smokers; 78 % male and 82 % female were
non-smokers. So, the majority of the participants were nonsmokers. Alcohol consumption was considered either
taking an occasional alcoholic drink or never taking any
alcoholic drink. 48 % male and 39 % female participants
were alcohol consumers. Approximately the same
percentage was found for chili eaters (Table 1). Food habits
can be important predictors of sensory discrimination.
Lopez and Montesinos (1999) reported alteration in acid,
sweet and sour thresholds of chili eating judges. No
correlations between judge performance and the life style
considered in this study were found.

was taken as to motivate the participants by giving sweets


after testing. Out of the 143 subjects, 50 were males (mean
age 25 years) and 93 were females (mean age 25 years).
Similar number of respondents was reported by Gatchalian
et al., (1990) who recruited 200 candidates and selected
102 based on their interest and availability. The next
screening was done through a written questionnaire, in
which food habits and health status information was
requested. Participants were in good health status while
taking part in the study. Two recruited volunteers were
eliminated from the study due to asthma problems and
caffeine intolerance. Participants for sensory testing should
be in good health. Stone and Sidel (1993) have reported
that minor nose infections affect sensory perceptions.
Panelists were asked to avoid smoking and drinking coffee
at least half an hour before testing, since this might affect
sensory perception (Meilgaard et al., 1999). Life style such
as smoking and alcohol consumption might relate to
sensory discrimination abilities (Bramesco and Setser,

Personality Traits
The 16-personality factors questionnaire (16FP) of
Cattell was designed for basic research in psychology to

Table 2. Definition of 16 personality factors.


Tabla 2. Definicin de los 16 factores de personalidad.

Personality Factors
Factor A
Emotional expression
Factor B
Intelligence
Factor C
Ego
Factor E
Dominance
Factor F
Impulsivity
Factor G
Group Loyalty
Factor H
Attitude
Factor I
Emotivity
Factor L
Credibility
Factor M
Cognitive Attitude
Factor N
Subtle
Factor O
Cautiousness
Factor Q1
Social Recognition
Factor Q2
Assuredness
Factor Q3
Self esteem
Factor Q4
Anxiety

Sizothymia
Affectothymia
Low intelligence
High intelligence
Emotional ego weakness
High ego strength
Submisiveness
Dominance or Ascendence
Desurgency
Surgency
Lack of group acceptance
Character
Threctia
Parmia
Harria
Premsia
Alaxia
Protension
Praxermia
Autia
Navet
Shrewdness
Untroubled Adequacy
Guilt Proneness
Conservativism
Radicalism
Group Dependency
Self Sufficiency
Low Self Sentiment Integration
High Strength or Self Sentiment
Low ergic tension
High ergic tension

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Definition
Reserved
Outgoing
More intelligence
Less intelligence
Affected by feelings
Emotionally stable
Submissive
Dominant
Serious
Easy going
Trusting
Suspicious
Timid
Venturesome
Tough minded
Sensitive
Self assured
Apprehensive
Practical
Imaginative
Forthright
Shrewd
Expedient
Conscientious
Conservative
Experimenting
Group dependent
Self sufficient
Uncontrolled
Controlled
Relaxed
Tense

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Mata et al.: Correlation between personality traits...

96
100

Correct responses (%)

88

87
77

80
60
40
20
0

Salty

Bitter

Sour

Sweet

Figure 1. Percentage of correct responses during taste identification test.


Figura 1. Porcentaje de respuestas correctas durante la prueba de identificacin de sabores.

100

95
95

96

96

96

97

92

Correct responses (%)

90
90

87

85

81

82

88

83

80
75
70
Peppermint Clover

Milk

Vanilla

Garlic

Onion

Cheese

Yoghurt Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee

Alcohol

Figure 2. Percentage of correct responses during odor identification test.


Figura 2. Porcentaje de respuestas correctas durante la prueba de identificacin de olores.

describe the short-term personality traits, which will predict


human behavior in normal young adults (Setzer, 2000).
Table 2 provides definition for the 16 personality factors
evaluated in this study. All participants were requested to
answer the 16FP questionnaire. The most common
personality traits found in participants were: Intelligence
(Factor B), Superego (Factor C), Impulsivity (Factor F),
Cognitive attitude (Factor M), Subtlety (Factor N),
Consciousness (Factor O), Social Status (Factor Q1), Self
esteem (Factor Q3) and Anxiety (Factor Q4). Intelligence
is an important personality trait to consider when sensory

judges are screened since stimuli memorizing, as well as


sensory description are desirable (Dawson et al., 1963).
Basic taste perception
When judges were asked to identify basic tastes
(sweet, salty, sour and bitter), 96 % identified the sweet
taste, whereas only 77 % identified the salty taste solution
(10 mM). Bitter and sour stimuli were identified 87 % and
88 % respectively (Figure 1). The selection criterion used
in this study was 100 % correct answers, meaning that
candidates should have identified all basic tastes correctly

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2007 SOMENTA

Ranking test
Table 3 shows the results for ranking taste solutions
at three different concentrations and water. When judges
were asked to rank four sweet solutions in an ascending
order, the first solution (Sucrose 29 mM) and the last
solution (Water) were given in a correct order by 91 % of
the judges. Second and third samples were placed in a
correct order by 86 and 84 % of the judges. The sweet
solution was perceived correctly with the highest
percentage (91 %). However, not all judges were able to
perceive the samples in a correct order, not even at the
highest level used in this study. Using the sour solution,
the water solution presented the highest (94 %) number of
correct answers (water was used in all fours basic tastes
ranking). The percentage of correct responses for the other
three levels of sour concentration varied from 56 % to 79
%. For the bitter taste, water was correctly identified by
79 % percent of the judges. Salty samples were the most
difficult solutions to rank as samples were misplaced in

to be considered for the next screening test. Hough et al.,


(1995) used 65 % correct answers as screening criteria;
they selected 141 out of 226 candidates representing 62
% of the total candidates. In our study, even though the
criterion was stricter (100 % correct answers), a greater
percentage (77 %) of candidates were selected. In this study,
from 143 participants, 110 were selected by this test.
Odor discrimination
During odor discrimination, subjects were more
prone to identify cinnamon, chocolate, coffee and alcohol
stimuli. Confusing stimuli were peppermint, garlic, onion
and clove (Figure 2). Subjects achieving more than 75 %
correct answers were selected (ASTM, 1981). From 110
candidates, 102 were selected using this test. Dawson et
al. (1963) reported that previous experience of the judge
with the stimuli is a good predictor of the discriminatory
ability. No information was collected from the participants
as to their previous experience with these odor substances.

Table 3. Personality traits, chi squared ( 2) and contingency coefficient (C).


Tabla 3. Rasgos de personalidad, chi-cuadrada ( 2) y coeficiente de contingencia (C).

Personality Traits
Factor A
Reserved
Emotional expression
Outgoing
Factor B
More intelligence
Intelligence
Less intelligence
Factor C
Affected by feelings
Ego
Emotionally stable
Factor E
Submissive
Dominance
Dominant
Factor F
Serious
Impulsivity
Easy going
Factor G
Trusting
Group Loyalty
Suspicious
Factor H
Timid
Attitude
Venturesome
Factor I
Tough minded
Emotivity
Sensitive
Factor L
Self assured
Credibility
Apprehensive
Factor M
Practical
Cognitive Attitude
Imaginative
Factor N
Forthright
Subtle
Shrewd
Factor O
Expedient
Cautiousness
Conscientious
Factor Q1
Conservative
Social Recognition
Experimenting
Factor Q2
Group dependent
Assuredness
Self sufficient
Factor Q3
Uncontrolled
Self Esteem
Controlled
Factor Q4
Relaxed
Anxiety
Tense

256

2
0.0317
0.0968
1.1109
0.0060
0.2327
3.3840
1.0713
0.0952
4.7118
2.0909
0.0635
0.0758
2.7525
1.0638
0.0074
2.0066
2.5827
0.0056
0.5405
0.0590
0.6743
0.3203
0.4038
0.0056
0.0189
5.1404
0.0496
0.3749
1.0318
0.5289
2.7905
0.1564

0.3283

0.5323

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Mata et al.: Correlation between personality traits...

91
86

Conc. +

84
78

80

94

Water

91

79

Conc. ++

Correct responses (%)

Conc.+++

79
70
63

60
56

60
46

47

50

46

40

20

Sweet

Salty

Bitter

Sour

Figure 3. Percentage of correct responses when ranking water against three different taste concentration.
Figura 3. Porcentaje de respuestas correctas durante la prueba de ordenacin comparando agua contra tres concentraciones de cada sabor.

more than 50 % of the cases, making these results for salty


taste a probable subject of a more profound study. Only
66 subjects out of 102 were accepted by this ranking test.
Discriminatory ability was chosen according to the ASTM
manual (ASTM, 1981) that establishes 70 % correct
answers as a criterion of acceptance. Henderson and Vaisey
(1970) suggested that sensory discrimination is an ability
that requires both a high degree of concentration and
memory.

performance. There have been a number of studies


reporting correlation between judge performance and
personality, however since none of them used the 16PF
questionnaire, no comparison can be made with the results
from this study. Henderson and Vaisey (1970) used the
short version of the personality research form (PRF) to
evaluate the personality traits of a group of people as a
way of predicting judge performance.
They found a direct relationship between
nurturance and aggression scores and intensity of flavor
difference ratings; a negative relationship between
autonomy, harmavoidance and impulsivity and degree of
flavor difference. The latter trait (impulsivity) correlation
was attributed to the tedious nature of the task, which could
have been avoided by motivation. The 16PF questionnaire
measures impulsivity, divided into desurgency and
surgency. Only surgency (Serious-type personality) showed
a correlation with high judge performance in our study.
Even consumer behavior has been predicted by
personality traits. Pangborn and Solms (1987) reported
a correlation between salt consumption and
cheerfulness, psychotic, doubtful and extroversion traits
in consumers.
It appears from our study that two personality trait
factors may influence judge performance. That is, the
serious type personality describes discriminators, whereas
experimenting (radicalism) type personality represents
non-discriminators. It seems that personality traits may play
an important role in sensory tests, judge performance and
consumer behavior. This is a topic that deserves further
investigations.

Discriminatory tests
Triangle tests using 29 mM sucrose and water were
used to discriminate among the 66 judges. Three sessions
consisting of four trials (12 replicates) were applied to each
participant. Pedrero and Pangborn, (1989) suggested that
the training should be started with at least twice as many
panelists as required for product testing. All subjects were
able to discriminate the stimuli in this study.
Correlation
Calculated for each of the personality traits
relating to judge performance are given in Table 3. The
contingency coefficient was calculated only when there
2
was a significant value. In this study, the personality
trait that correlated well with high discrimination
performance of judges was desurgency, which represents
a serious type person (Contingency coefficient = 0.3283).
The personality trait that correlated with bad judge
performance was radicalism that is an experimenting
person (Contingency coefficient = 0.5323). None of the
other personality traits seemed to be correlated to judge
2

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