Feast for the Eyes: Effects of Food Perceptions and Computer Vision Features on Food Photo Popularity

Yilang Peng, John B. Jemmott III


The widely circulated food photos online have become an important part of our visual culture. Combining human ratings of food characteristics and computational analysis of visual aesthetics, we examined what contributed to the aesthetic appeal of a diversity of food photographs (N = 300) and likes and comments they received in an artificial newsfeed from participants (N = 399). The results revealed that people tended to like and share images containing tasty foods. Both healthy and unhealthy foods were able to gain likes. Aesthetic appeal and specific visual features, such as the use of arousing colors and different components of visual complexity, also influenced the popularity of food images. This work demonstrates the potential of applying computer vision methods in visual analysis, offers insights into image virality, and provides practical guidelines for communicating healthy eating.


food, virality, computer vision, visual aesthetics, health communication

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