What is expectation assimilation?
It’s the notion that our taste perceptions are biased by our imagination, and if you expect a food to taste good it will. However, expectation assimilation also works in the opposite direction. If you expect a food to taste unpleasant it will (Wansink, 2006).
At a cafeteria in Urbana, Illinois, 175 people were given a free brownie dusted with powdered sugar (Wansink, 2006). They were told the brownie was a new dessert that may be added to the menu. They were asked how they liked the flavor and how much they would pay for it. All of the brownies were the same size and had the same ingredients. However, the brownies were served on a china plate, on a paper plate or on a paper napkin.
Those who received the brownie on a china plate said the brownie was excellent. The people eating the brownie from the paper plate rated the brownie as good. Those who were served the brownie on a napkin said it was okay but nothing special.