sauce béarnaise syndrome
An acquired, permanent conditioned response–e.g., severe nausea–which develops shortly after exposure to a particular stimulus–e.g., sauce béarnaise, as well as other tastes and odours.
Martin Seligman first described the phenomenon in 1972 when, several hours after eating a steak soaked in a wickedly good béarnaise, developed wickedly bad nausea. Seligman recognised it as a conditioned reaction, but realised its paradoxical nature, in that none of the other environmental–auditory, visual, social–cues he’d experienced in the restaurant that night triggered the reaction, only the sauce and, being a scientist, published his musings (Seligman, Hager, 1972). John Garcia picked up the baton and devised a rat model for conditioned taste aversion (Garcia, Clarke, Hankins, 1973) to solve the conundrum, using an array of noxious stimuli. Of the stimuli, only tastes and odours evoked the conditioned response, leading him to conclude that it was an evolutionary adaptation–the caveman who ate bad food and lived to tell the tale was immediately conditioned to not repeat the experience, which is now termed the preparedness hypothesis.
Synonyms Conditioned taste aversion, Garcia effect, taste aversion
Reference Psychology: Themes and Variations, Wayne Weiten, 2012, p252