Artistic taste is central to personal identity

The notion of taste is important for personal identity, new research has suggested. Zeynep Arsel, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University and Jonathan Bean from Parsons the New School of Design in New York City found such preferences can act as a boundary to set individuals apart from others.

According to the investigation - which was funded by the Fonds Quebecois de la Recherche sur la Societe et la Culture - taste-making is a three-way process that includes problematisation, instrumentalisation and ritualisation.

It was shown that while people problematise their environment by comparing with all available options, they then use instrumentalisation - associating these choices to meanings - to rationalise their design decision.

The third stage sees repetition help imitation become ingrained behaviour.

Ms Arsel explained people will often base their taste on what they see on design sites, adding: "But through repeated exposure, we develop our own standards for what can in fact become personal taste."

Dublin-based Chartered Psychologist Dr Ian Gargan comments: "Taste is often a reflection of individual learning, emerging from developmental influence. As choices between likes and dislikes become more sophisticated over time, their influence contribute to a definition of self but while also providing security. ‘Good’ taste can also be affirmed by others.

"In short, what begins as a preference becomes an instrument to reinforce attachment."