"Und den Geschmack habe ich heute auch noch auf der Zunge" ["Even today I still have that taste on my tongue"]. Smell and Taste in the Course of Life—A Qualitative Experiment

Maria Heckel, David Rester, Bernd Seeberger


In this article, we investigate the subjective significance of smell and taste for the elderly throughout the course of their lives. In a qualitative experiment 14 elderly people in four groups received selected smell and taste samples and were requested to name long forgotten smells and flavors. The analysis of the collected data was performed by using methods of the qualitative heuristic research approach and qualitative content analysis by using the computer-based tool for qualitative data analysis MAXQDA Version 10. The results indicate that smells and taste obtain individual emotional and autobiographical significance for the elderly throughout the course of their lives, which is determined by historical, cultural, and environmental events.

The participants' reactions included descriptions, evaluations, emotions, and memories on the selected smell and taste samples. Over 50 long forgotten smells and flavors from different aspects of their lives were named. Daily occurring phenomena and the participants' subjective smell and taste theories are described. Possible applications of these results might involve raising awareness of the importance of smells and tastes in conceptual and theoretical considerations of gerontological practice. This study contributes to the practice of qualitative research by demonstrating the qualitative experiment as a suitable method for studying the object of smell and taste in the course of life.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs120332


smell; taste; course of life; qualitative experiment; subjective significance; biography; elderly

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-13.3.1736

Copyright (c) 2012 Maria Heckel, David Rester, Bernd Seeberger

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