This study investigated people's preferences for different water sources and factors that predict such preferences using a blind taste test. Water preferences of 143 participants for one name-brand bottled water, one groundwater-sourced tap water, and one indirect potable reuse (IDR) water were assessed. For predictors of water preference, we measured each participant's PTC taste sensitivity and assessed two personality traits (Neuroticism, Openness to Experience). We also explored participants' descriptions of each water source. Results indicate a preference for water treated with Reverse Osmosis (RO) (bottled and IDR water) over groundwater-sourced water, which had higher pH levels and lower concentrations of Ca and HCO3−. PTC taste sensitivity did not predict preferences, while Openness to Experience and Neuroticism predicted preference for IDR water. Positive relations between Openness to Experience and preferences for bottled and IDR water were moderated by gender and were stronger among females. Participants described water primarily by its taste and texture. Findings suggest that (1) tap water treated by RO is equally preferable to some bottled water, (2) personality traits may affect water preferences, and (3) prior findings of gender differences in preferences for bottled water may reflect personality characteristics. Efforts to increase acceptance for sustainable water alternatives, such as IDR, may be more successful by assuring consumers about taste and addressing personality traits that encourage or inhibit use.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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