No matter how smart we think we are, humanity continues to be fooled by simple marketing tricks. Various experiments have found wearing the color red is more likely to get you a date. Another new study suggests that a green hue can convince you that a candy bar isn’t really that unhealthy.
As part of a study published in Health Communication, Jonathon Schuldt, an assistant communication professor at Cornell University, asked 93 college students to imagine they were in a grocery store checkout line, hungry and looking at candy bars. Then he showed them an image of a candy bar with a green or a red calorie label, and asked them how healthy they thought the candy relative to other candy bars, and whether they thought it had more or fewer calories. They thought the candy bar with the green label was a healthier option than the red one, despite the fact that had the same number of calories.
Later, Schuldt performed the experiment again online, showing candy bars with green or white calorie labels to 39 subjects. The more important healthy eating was to the participants, the more they thought of the white-labelled candy as the less healthy option.
Schuldt suggests we should probably take this into account as more regulations require companies to stamp food products with calorie counts. “As government organizations including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration consider developing a uniform front-of-package labeling system for the U.S. marketplace, these findings suggest that the design and color of the labels may deserve as much attention as the nutritional information they convey,” he said in a press release.
Does this mean people pick out the green M&M’s and call it dieting?