Fast Food on the Brain

Researchers discover that just looking at fast-food logos can affect attitude and judgment.

Being exposed to the sights and smells of fast food is enough to trigger cravings in many people. But it turns out that just looking at fast-food-company logos may be enough to affect our attitude and judgment.

A recent study reported in the March 2010 issue of Psychological Science found that, compared with a control group that spent time viewing unrelated shapes of similar size and the logos of inexpensive sit-down chain restaurants, people who spent time examining leading fast-food logos were more likely to exhibit impatience and haste in executing subsequent tasks, and less likely to defer gratification.

In a study of 57 people, University of Toronto researchers found that the fast-food participants were, in later exercises, significantly more likely to prefer items characterized as timesaving. They were also more apt to race through reading assignments, even when presented with no time limit, and to accept smaller sums of money right away rather than wait and receive larger sums of money later.

The results suggest that our exposure to, and associations with, fast food may carry over into other areas of our lives and consumer behaviors in surprising, unconscious ways.


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