Not just a picky eater – noise can put you off your food, science says


A recent study published in Applied Acoustics investigated how noise levels in restaurants can affect how diners perceive the taste of food. 

While all restaurants have some level of noise, whether it be the buzz of conversation during peak hours or searing sounds from the kitchen, it can lead to an unpleasant dining experience if excessively loud.

The Guardian claims that “background noise in some eateries can reach the equivalent of a lawnmower or a motorbike”. 

People rarely consider how noise levels affect them psychologically. Authors of the study, Mahmoud Alamir and Dr Kristy Hansen, shed some light on this topic in their recent paper. 

Conditions of the study

The study aimed to reveal the effect that noise in restaurants has on diners. It used three types of noise – relaxing music, road traffic noise and restaurant noise – and evaluated how much participants liked the food they were eating relative to the noise levels they experienced while dining.

Participants could rate the food using a Likert scale. Gender, age and noise-sensitivity were also taken into consideration by the authors.

Food quality and the service at the restaurant were considered as well, as these factors contribute greatly to the dining experience. 


While relaxing music did cause an increase in enjoyment of the food, normal restaurant noise and road traffic noise decreased participants' liking of food at all levels.

This provides new evidence that could assist restaurants with the layout of dining areas. Dr Kristy Hansen suggested that the study could help to improve dining experiences through “more practical acoustic design or dining areas to suit different groups of people”.

Image credit: Unsplash

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