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Do humans all like different tastes or do we all like the same taste but we taste each food differently?
Question Date: 2010-06-23
Answer 1:

These are great questions. A lot of people assume that everyone experiences the world in the same way, but you have realized that we may actually all be a little different.

We actually have different abilities to taste things. In order for us to taste, we have to have receptors on our tongues to pick up certain flavors. Then nerves carry messages to our brains to tell us that we have tasted something. All flavors are combinations of salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and meaty (also called umami, which is pronounced like oo mommy). Our noses also have receptors, and this adds a lot to what we taste. Some people have genes to detect bitterness that other people dont. This may be why some people dont like brussel sprouts, broccoli, or other vegetables in that family. I like these vegetables, but I dont have that extra bitterness receptor.

Pandas are vegetarians and no longer have the genetic code for making umami receptors that work. A black bear that couldnt taste meat might leave fewer offspring than one that did, but theres no selection against pandas that cant taste meat, so the bad copies are harmless and stayed in their gene pool.

There are also a lot of psychological reasons why we like what we do. Maybe your favorite relative makes a food that will always be special to you because you love that person. Maybe you ate something when you had the stomach flu and you hate it now. What we like also depends on the culture in which were raised, what we have eaten in the past, and maybe even by advertising.

Answer 2:

There is no way to know this, since we can't get "inside" another person's mind. That said, some people can taste certain chemicals that other people cannot, so we know to that extent that peoples' experiences are different.

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