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Red makes you gain weight
What do all these fast food chains have in common?

fast food restaurants all have red.jpg

Notice anything similar about the fast food chain logos above?

You've probably guessed it. Notice how the colours are quite similar? In particular, the colour
red? It appears in every logo. 

But why red? And so what if it's red?


This brings us to the world of colour psychology. Vision is the most influential of our 5 senses, and naturally shapes and affects our thoughts and ideas the most. And in the world of vision, colour is a big distinguishing factor. Consequently, what this has led to the development of the field of colour psychology - how different colours affect people in different contexts. 


The colour Red provides 2 apparent benefits for fast food chains: 

  1. It makes people hungrier. This seems pretty ridiculous. How can colour make anyone hungry? The theory is that red spikes our attention and arousal the most. In turn, this causes an increase in heart-rate and blood flow, some which goes around our digestive system, signalling our metabolism to increase, which jump-starts our theory.

  2. It attracts attention, making people more likely to step in to the fast food restaurant.

This could still leave many of us unconvinced. How can something so seemingly minor affect our actual actions? Yet there are no end of examples proving otherwise:

- heavier cutlery makes us think the same food taste better

- holding a warm cup akes us think that someone's personality is warmer.  

- the sound of waves makes seafood taste fresher

- the same chocolate in a round shape tastes sweeter than in a square shape 

- the same charity campaign gets more donations with a heavier envelope

- wearing a shirt with the word "generous" makes us more generous; the converse is true if the word is "stringy"

- changing the default choice from "no" to "yes" reverses our preference for major decisions like whether we choose to donate our organs upon death or not. 

Our interpretation of the world, and hence our thoughts, reactions, and feelings are shaped by a large number of factors, many of which we might not even notice. Explore the rest of this site for more stories and examples. 

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