Previous psychological studies have shown that images of food elicit hedonic responses, either consciously or unconsciously, and that participants’ cultural experiences moderate conscious hedonic ratings of food. However, whether cultural factors moderate unconscious hedonic responses to food remains unknown. We investigated this issue in Polish and Japanese participants using the subliminal affective priming paradigm. Images of international fast food and domestic Japanese food were presented subliminally as prime stimuli. Participants rated their preferences for the subsequently presented target ideographs. Participants also rated their preferences for supraliminally presented food images. In the subliminal rating task, Polish participants showed higher preference ratings for fast food primes than for Japanese food primes, whereas Japanese participants showed comparable preference ratings across these two conditions. In the supraliminal rating task, both Polish and Japanese participants reported comparable preferences for fast and Japanese food stimuli. These results suggest that cultural experiences moderate unconscious hedonic responses to food, which may not be detected based on explicit ratings.
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