Standard Guide for Sensory Evaluation of Products by Children and Minors
4.1 It is necessary and useful to test with children because they represent the real end-users for many products. Some products are developed specifically for children, and some are dual-purpose products that are intended for adults and children. Examples include: baby foods, diapers, ready-to-eat cereal, juices, food or lunch kits, candy, toys, vitamins and other pharmaceuticals, music and videos, interactive learning tools, and packaging.
4.2 Children have influence over adults' purchase decisions and are responsible for many or some of their own purchase decisions.
4.3 Creating a product for children requires input from children because their wants and needs differ from those of adults. For example, they may differ from adults in preferences or sensory acuity, or both, for sweetness, saltiness, carbonation, and texture. It is impossible to predict the nature of these differences without actual input from the intended target audience.
1.1 This standard guide provides a framework for understanding the issues relating to conducting sensory and market research studies with children. It recommends and provides examples for developing ethical, safe, and valid testing methods. It focuses specifically on the concerns relevant to testing with children from birth through preadolescence. The guide assumes that minors older than 15 years of age are generally capable of performing sensory tests like adults, and therefore, all standard procedures used with adult subjects apply. The one exception, however, is legal consent where parental/legal guardian permission should be obtained for anyone under 18 years of age.
1.2 The guide will take into account the wide range of children's physical, emotional, and cognitive levels of development. It will prove useful for developing tasks that are understandable to children. It recommends alternative modes for children to communicate their opinions or perceptions back to the researcher, such as appropriate scales and measures.
1.3 The ethical standard presented in this document should be viewed as a minimum requirement for testing with minors. The safety and protection of children as respondents, as well as an attitude of respect for the value of their input should be of primary concern to the researcher.
1.4 The considerations raised in this document may also be useful when testing with the elderly or with adults who have developmental handicaps.
1.5 This document is not intended to be a complete description of reliable sensory testing techniques and methodologies. It focuses instead on special considerations for the specific application of sensory techniques when testing with children. It assumes knowledge of basic sensory and statistical analysis techniques.
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