ISO 5495:2005 describes a procedure for determining whether there exists a perceptible sensory difference or a similarity between samples of two products concerning the intensity of a sensory attribute. This test is sometimes also referred to as a directional difference test or a 2-AFC test (Alternative Forced Choice). In fact, the paired comparison test is a forced choice test between two alternatives.
The method is applicable whether a difference exists in a single sensory attribute or in several, which means that it enables determination of whether there exists a perceptible difference concerning a given attribute, and the specification of the direction of difference, but it does not give any indication of the extent of that difference. The absence of difference for the attribute under study does not signify that there does not exist any difference between the two products.
This method is only applicable if the products are relatively homogeneous.
The method is effective (1) for determining whether a perceptible difference exists (paired difference test), or whether no perceptible difference exists (paired similarity test) when, for example, modifications are made to ingredients, processing, packaging, handling or storage operations, or (2) for selecting, training and monitoring assessors.
It is necessary to know, prior to carrying out the test, whether the test is a one-sided test (the test supervisor knows a priori the direction of the difference, and the alternative hypothesis corresponds to the existence of a difference in the expected direction) or a two-sided test (the test supervisor does not have any a priori knowledge concerning the direction of the difference, and the alternative hypothesis corresponds to the existence of a difference in one direction or the other).