edibble experimental design with sensory discrimination tests

R experimental design edibble

Can Australians distinguish the true taste of Vegemite? Designing an experiment with sensory discrimination test using the edibble package.

Emi Tanaka https://emitanaka.org (Monash University)https://numbat.space/
04-29-2022

This blog post attempts to describe the experimental design in Williams et al. (2021) for sensory discrimination test on vegemite using the edibble R package. Detailed descriptions are provided in Williams et al. (2021) and I only provide an abridged version in this blog, except where quoted.

First, I load the packages needed. The edibble package is currently only available on GitHub at https://github.com/emitanaka/edibble with plans to submit to CRAN in the next couple of months.


There are three types of sensory discrimination tests that are used by sensory scientists Drs Ciarán Forde and Patrick O’Riordan in an experiment to see if a story about an alternative to vegemite could sharpen the taste buds and improve the discriminative abilities of Australian consumers. The three sensory discrimination tests are as described below in Williams et al. (2021):

  1. Triangle test. The consumer is presented with two samples of one product and one sample of the other and asked to pick the odd sample.
  2. Paired preference test. The consumer is presented with a sample of the standard product and the alternative and asked ‘which sample do you prefer?’
  3. Monadic ‘A not A’ test. Samples of the standard and alternative products are presented to the consumers in a sequential monadic order (one by one) and they are asked ‘is this your normal product?’

These test are abbreviated as T, PP, and M, respectively. The experimental structure is briefly summarised below:

Table 1: From Williams et al. (2021): broad structure of the vegemite experiment.
Day 1 2 3 4
Cover story no no yes yes
Test T, M PP, M T, M PP, M
Consumer 1-42 43-84 85-126 127-168

The following is the experimental design description in Williams et al. (2021):

Within this structure a number of design features were introduced:

  1. Test order. On each day half of the consumers took the sequence of monadic tests first and the other half after either the paired preference or triangle tests.
  2. For the triangle test there are six possible triplets involving the two products (labelled N and S for normal and spiked vegemite respectively), namely: NNS, SNN, NSN, SSN, NSS and SNS. Two of these triplets were presented in sequence to each consumer and so an optimal row–column design was constructed for six treatments (triplets) in two rows (order of presentation) and 42 columns (consumers). The design generation package CycDesigN (http://www.vsni.co.uk/software/cycdesign/) was used to construct the layout. Furthermore the grouping option of the package was employed to ensure that each consumer sampled each product three times, that is, if the consumer received a triplet with two of the normal vegemite then the second triplet would contain two of the spiked vegemite. Separate randomisations of the design were used for 2 days.
  3. For the paired preference test the normal vegemite in a pair can be presented either first or second. Hence an optimal row–column design was constructed for two treatments (pair order) in three rows (order of presentation) and 42 columns (consumers). Separate randomisations of the design were used for 2 days.
  4. For the monadic test the six samples, three of each product (normal and spiked), were presented in a different sequential order to each consumer and so there was the chance to study the possibility of carryover effects from successive samples. CycDesigN was used to construct an optimal crossover design for two treatments (product type) in six periods (order of presentation) and 42 subjects (consumers). Separate randomisations of the design were used for 4 days.

Test order

On each day half of the consumers took the sequence of monadic tests first and the other half after either the paired preference or triangle tests.

Recall:

At first I couldn’t tell whether the cover story and the sensory tests (T and PP) were randomised or in systematic order, but in my communication with Emlyn Williams, he let me know it was randomised.

set.seed(1)
des1 <- design("sensory evalution") %>% 
  set_units(day = 4,
            consumer = nested_in(day, 42)) %>% 
  set_trts(cover_story = c("yes", "no"),
           test = c("T,M", "PP,M"),
           test_first = c("T/PP", "M")) %>% 
  allot_table(test:cover_story ~ day,
                    test_first ~ consumer)


des1
# sensory evalution 
# An edibble: 168 x 5
         day    consumer cover_story     test test_first
   <unit(4)> <unit(168)>    <trt(2)> <trt(2)>   <trt(2)>
 1      day1  consumer1          yes      T,M       T/PP
 2      day1  consumer2          yes      T,M       M   
 3      day1  consumer3          yes      T,M       T/PP
 4      day1  consumer4          yes      T,M       T/PP
 5      day1  consumer5          yes      T,M       T/PP
 6      day1  consumer6          yes      T,M       M   
 7      day1  consumer7          yes      T,M       T/PP
 8      day1  consumer8          yes      T,M       M   
 9      day1  consumer9          yes      T,M       M   
10      day1  consumer10         yes      T,M       M   
# … with 158 more rows

You can check the allocation of the cover story and test by nesting it by day:

des1 %>% 
  nest_by(day, cover_story, test)
# A tibble: 4 × 4
# Rowwise:  day, cover_story, test
        day cover_story     test               data
  <unit(4)>    <trt(2)> <trt(2)> <list<tibble[,2]>>
1      day1         yes     T,M            [42 × 2]
2      day2         no      PP,M           [42 × 2]
3      day3         yes     PP,M           [42 × 2]
4      day4         no      T,M            [42 × 2]

Triangle test

For the triangle test there are six possible triplets involving the two products (labelled N and S for normal and spiked vegemite respectively), namely: NNS, SNN, NSN, SSN, NSS and SNS. Two of these triplets were presented in sequence to each consumer and so an optimal row–column design was constructed for six treatments (triplets) in two rows (order of presentation) and 42 columns (consumers)… if the consumer received a triplet with two of the normal vegemite then the second triplet would contain two of the spiked vegemite. Separate randomisations of the design were used for 2 days.

Recall:

As every consumer also does the monadic test which uses 6 samples, only 6 samples remain for the triangle test. The product lineups took me a while to figure it out – the part that tripped me up was that the two lineups (out of NNS, SNN, NSN, SSN, NSS and SNS) that was presented to the consumer sequentially had to have the major product swapped, so you can’t choose something like NNS and NSN because both lineups have the major product as N. This precludes from just two random selections from NNS, SNN, NSN, SSN, NSS and SNS, and requires a conditional randomisation.

I decided to think of this as a two step process:

  1. choose the main product, and
  2. choose out of the sequences XXO, XOX and OXX where X denotes the major product.

Since the product lineup is nested within the consumer, the major product allocation in edibble below automatically treats consumer as a block and in the assignment, it will try to ensure the major product is different in the two lineups for each consumer.

des2 <- design("triangle test") %>% 
    set_units(day = c(1, 4),
              consumer = nested_in(day, 42),
              product_lineup = nested_in(consumer, 2)) %>% 
    set_trts(major_product = c("spiked", "normal"),
             sequence = c("XXO", "XOX", "OXX")) %>% 
    allot_table(major_product ~ product_lineup,
                     sequence ~ product_lineup)

des2
# triangle test 
# An edibble: 168 x 5
         day   consumer   product_lineup major_product sequence
   <unit(2)> <unit(84)>      <unit(168)>      <trt(2)> <trt(3)>
 1         1  consumer1 product_lineup1         normal      XOX
 2         1  consumer1 product_lineup2         spiked      OXX
 3         1  consumer2 product_lineup3         normal      XOX
 4         1  consumer2 product_lineup4         spiked      OXX
 5         1  consumer3 product_lineup5         normal      XXO
 6         1  consumer3 product_lineup6         spiked      XOX
 7         1  consumer4 product_lineup7         spiked      XXO
 8         1  consumer4 product_lineup8         normal      XOX
 9         1  consumer5 product_lineup9         normal      OXX
10         1  consumer5 product_lineup10        spiked      XOX
# … with 158 more rows

I could alternatively design the above as a row-column design.

des2alt <- design("triangle test") %>% 
    set_units(day = c(1, 4),
              consumer = nested_in(day, 42),
              order = 2,
              product_lineup = crossed_by(consumer, order)) %>% 
    set_trts(major_product = c("spiked", "normal"),
             sequence = c("XXO", "XOX", "OXX")) %>% 
    allot_table(major_product ~ product_lineup,
                     sequence ~ product_lineup)

deggust::autoplot(des2alt)

Paired test

For the paired preference test the normal vegemite in a pair can be presented either first or second. Hence an optimal row–column design was constructed for two treatments (pair order) in three rows (order of presentation) and 42 columns (consumers). Separate randomisations of the design were used for 2 days.
des3 <- design("paired test") %>% 
    set_units(day = c(2, 3),
              consumer = nested_in(day, 42),
              order = 3,
              product_lineup = crossed_by(consumer, order)) %>% 
    set_trts(product_order = c("SN", "NS")) %>% 
    allot_table(product_order ~ product_lineup)

deggust::autoplot(des3)

Monadic test

For the monadic test the six samples, three of each product (normal and spiked), were presented in a different sequential order to each consumer and so there was the chance to study the possibility of carryover effects from successive samples.
des4 <- design("monadic test") %>% 
    set_units(day = 4,
              consumer = nested_in(day, 42),
              order = 6,
              product_lineup = crossed_by(consumer, order)) %>% 
    set_trts(product = c("spiked", "normal")) %>% 
    allot_table(product ~ product_lineup)

options(deggust.nnode_max = Inf)
deggust::autoplot(des4)

Conclusion

So you might be wondering if Australians can indeed distinguish the true taste of vegemite? Well this blog post is not about the analysis but the experimental design. A short analysis is provided, however, in Williams et al. (2021) … and the answer is yes Australians knows their vegemite 😉

Acknowldegement

I want to thank Emyln for being so prompt in answering my questions about this experiment and providing the data (which I didn’t end up using in this blog post), that was mistakenly missing in the initial publication but available now on the website.

Williams, E R, C G Forde, J Imaki, and K Oelkers. 2021. “Experimental Design in Practice: The Importance of Blocking and Treatment Structures.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Statistics 63 (3): 455–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/anzs.12343.

References

Corrections

If you see mistakes or want to suggest changes, please create an issue on the source repository.

Reuse

Text and figures are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 4.0. Source code is available at https://github.com/emitanaka/emitanaka.github.io, unless otherwise noted. The figures that have been reused from other sources don't fall under this license and can be recognized by a note in their caption: "Figure from ...".

Citation

For attribution, please cite this work as

Tanaka (2022, April 29). emi tanaka: edibble experimental design with sensory discrimination tests. Retrieved from https://emitanaka.org/posts/2022-03-27-sensory-discrimination-tests/

BibTeX citation

@misc{tanaka2022edibble,
  author = {Tanaka, Emi},
  title = {emi tanaka: edibble experimental design with sensory discrimination tests},
  url = {https://emitanaka.org/posts/2022-03-27-sensory-discrimination-tests/},
  year = {2022}
}