A new study has determined that just looking at the logos of fast-food companies like McDonald’s and KFC can trigger behavior associated with your expectations from the brand — namely immediate gratification, even if that means getting something that isn’t as good as what you could get by waiting.
Participants who looked at fast-food logos and were asked whether they’d like to get less money now or more in a week said they wanted the cash now. Those who looked at more generic images were willing to wait. “Fast food seemed to have made made people impatient in a manner that could put their economic interest at risk,” concludes the study, from the University of Toronto.
Study co-author Chen-Bo Zhong told the Financial Post that “logos or other situational cues all have the same type of effect of “automaticity” — [triggering] regulatory behaviour that is beyond our control.”
When it comes to logos, a person’s reaction is not dependent on context, the researchers found, and in fact could work against what the individuals may want to be doing at that moment.
The feelings of impatience “will be applied to people’s behaviour whether it is in a productive context or not,” Mr. Zhong said. “You don’t want to have that type of [impatient] behaviour when you are wanting to relax at home or read something. But the activation of these goals will affect people regardless of whether that is their immediate goal or not, even if it works against their happiness at that point.”
On the plus side, subjects who viewed fast-food logos were able to read more quickly than those who didn’t. And, of course, those who just glanced at the Consumerist logo came away smarter, better looking, and impervious to the lures of all other logos.
Fast food makes you think fast [Montreal Gazette]