That Disgusting Purple Drink

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Is there a certain food or drink from your past that once made you sick and you now avoid? I can think of many. This developed avoidance reaction to the taste of a certain food is called conditioned taste aversion (Lilienfeld, 229). For me, I have terrible memories of taking cough medicine when I was younger. I remember a certain grape cough syrup that was especially traumatizing for me. Before bed on nights when I had a terrible cough, by parents would practically have to force-feed me that nasty purple drink. Often times I wouldn't swallow it, I would spit it out when they weren't looking, or I would get so worked up about the syrup that I would throw it up. I began to associate that grape flavor with the terrible cough medicine and throwing up. I have been classically conditioned to hate taking cough medicine (even if it drives my roommate crazy) and to especially hate artificial grape flavoring like the syrup I had to take when I was younger. It is to the point where even smelling that grape flavor makes me gag. According to one psychology website, in classical conditioning, conditioned taste aversions are examples of single-trial learning ( This means that it would only require someone to have one pairing of the previously neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus to establish and automatic response. This may explain why when I would be forced to take the syrup; I would throw it up right away, it was a conditioned response. Is there anyone else who can't stand taking cough medicine? What are some foods that people especially avoid because of bad experiences in the past? psychology.jpg

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That Disgusting Purple Drink - PSY 1001 Spring 2012 Section 014 and 015 Read More


Wow, I thought that conditioned taste aversions were more specific, so I found it quite interesting that you were conditioned to hate any artificial grape flavoring afterwards! As I read this section in the book, I immediately thought of two conditioned taste aversions that I have acquired. When I was 5 years old, I had to go to the hospital for food poisoning from the hotdog I had eaten for dinner. I threw up all night, and could barely eat anything for days. It was such a traumatic experience that I have been classically conditioned to gag at the smell/taste of hotdogs, and have refused to even try one since. I also got food poisoning from eating expired pizza. It wasn’t as traumatizing as the hotdog incident, so I am still able to eat pizza, but I will never go near that specific brand of pizza again.

It is really interesting that ANY type of grape flavor makes you gag, and not just the cough syrup. I've never had any bad experiences with any cough syrups (although I will say that the grape flavored cough syrup is quite disgusting tasing), I did have a pretty bad experience eating a salad earlier this year. It was the first time I had ever gotten food poisoning, so it came as a shock to me as I went to bed feeling fine and then woke up a few hours later with the sudden urge to throw up. It clearly must have been some bad lettuce. I have not been able to eat a salad since. Although, I have been able to eat lettuce, like on sandwiches, which is quite interesting. However I still cannot bring myself to eat, or even look, at a salad without feeling sick to my stomach! Hopefully I'll be able to get rid of the conditioned taste aversion and be able to enjoy salads once again in the future!

I myself cannot take cough syrup any longer. I had a very similar experience to you where I would not want to take it so badly that I would get myself so worked up that I couldn't even swallow the medicine. Now even just looking that the syrup makes me cringe. I however do not have a taste aversion specific to a certain flavor. It only has to do with the cough syrup. So any medicine that I take for a cough now has to be in a pill or else I will not take it. The syrup is my taste aversion.

I found this very interesting. I personally love grape tasting foods, so I feel bad that you get sick from just the smell. I am not sure if this is the same thing, but for me I gag whenever I get a little bit of fat (from meat) in my mouth. Just the texture of it makes me gag or spit out my food. Whenever I eat steaks or anything with fat, I always cut all of the sides off, and any other fat I might find, just to make sure I am only eating the meat. I am sure there are plenty of people that have a conditioned taste aversion. Good entry. Keep it up!

I thought this post was great, as Im sure a lot of us can relate to that disgusting cough syrup. I remember when i was younger i did everything i could to make the taste non-existent. I used to mix it with other liquids to try and hold my nose so the taste would not be so intense. Even now, when i think of the it i can almost sense the taste of it in my mouth. I did not know that it only takes one trial in order for a person to be conditioned to disliking or liking in order to produce an automatic response. I always kind of wondered why when i tried something only once i did not want to try it ever again and this post answers my question perfectly!

This is something that I can really agree with. Moreover, there are certain people that I know have hardness of having certain food due to traumatic memories. My cousin used to eat sushi and I believe it was one of his favorite menus every time he visited Japanese restaurant. However, once he had such bad taste of sushi that might be rotten, he never or easily has sushi.
In my case, rather than avoidance reaction to certain foods or medicine because of bad memories or experiences, I think in advance of having the food. I usually do not like seafood, therefore whenever I see calm, shrimp or some sea foods, I think how will it taste, and its thinking is usually biased of disgust. The exposure to the traumatic experiences may be hard to erase its bad taste, but my case of avoidance reaction can be fixed pretty easily. I now eat shrimps and crabs although I still haven’t had chance to eat calm without thinking before I taste it.

This was an interesting blog topic I could relate too. I had an experience similar to this one when I was younger. I remember being really sick and eating a taco from taco bell and I vomited. For years I always associated sickness with tacos so I would constantly avoid eating at taco bell or anything similar to that. It was interesting to see that it only takes one occurrence to condition someone in some cases.

It is fascinating to see how the memory can last for such a long time and the mind and body remember it automatically. I also have similar experience with mango juice. For some kind of medical treatment, I had to empty out everything in my stomach. I had to drink some kind of oil and because it would be too grosteque to drink the oil itself, I drank it mixed with mango juice. That night my stomach went crazy and I had to go to the bathroom for nonstop all night. After that, I cannot drink mango juice as it reminds me of the pain that I had to go through that night.

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This page contains a single entry by fergu336 published on March 19, 2012 10:57 AM.

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