We've all heard about the relationships certain colours might have with how we feel — red walls, for example, apparently make people hungry, while yellow gives us energy.
But now science is taking a stand in the battle of what colours do to your appetite, and it's getting specific. According to a new study from researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford, the hue of a food container can impact how good something will taste when we ingest it. The optimal mug for drinking hot chocolate, for example? That would be an orange or a cream-coloured cup, and not a white or red one.
The study had 57 participants try hot chocolate in white, red, cream or orange plastic cups (with white on the inside), and according to results in the 'Journal of Sensory Studies', it tasted best in the latter two coloured cups.
Other research in this field has demonstrated effects like blue plates curbing appetites, while the study itself noted previous findings for pink drinks, for example, being perceived as having more sugar.
"There is no fixed rule stating that flavour and aroma are enhanced in a cup of a certain colour or shade," said Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, of Valencia's Polytechnic University in a press release. "In reality this varies depending on the type of food, but the truth is that, as this effect occurs, more attention should be paid to the colour of the container as it has more potential than one could imagine."
People's attitudes towards eating is a massive market to be studied, especially considering the competing forces of food manufacturers and restaurants versus the weight loss and health industry. In December, the University of Bristol found that even thinking about a previously eaten large meal could make you less hungry, according to The Daily Mail.
So, do you think specific colours affect what (or how) you eat? Let us know in the comments below if you think it's true — or simply a matter of mind over matter.
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There are strategic times to take advantage of red -- and times when it's a no go. SATs in an hour? Avoid. Night on the town? Enjoy. Red can have both negative and positive effects -- it really depends on the context. <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xge/136/1/154/" target="_hplink">A 2007 study</a> found that red can hurt exam scores because the color is associated with <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/xge/136/1/154/" target="_hplink">a fear of failure.</a> <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-02/uobc-cbb020409.php" target="_hplink">Julia Zhu, lead author on a different color study, </a>says we associate red with danger because of the way we interact with it in our environment: the brash hue commonly appears in stop signs, emergency vehicles and teachers' corrective pens. On the flip side,<a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7063/full/nature04306.html" target="_hplink"> a 2005 British study linked the color red</a> to success and dominance. Those researchers analyzed the 2004 Olympic games to find that more sports matches were won by teams that wore red outfits than those that wore blue ones. Finally, perhaps unsurprisingly, red may have a va-va-voom factor: <a href="http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3268" target="_hplink">In a 2008 study</a>, men found ladies in red to be more attractive than those in other colors. Color expert <a href="http://www.lindaholtinteriors.com/" target="_hplink">Linda Holt </a> puts up a (figurative) yellow light when considering whether or not to paint a room red. "Red has been proven to increase respiration and heart rate, so red is a very a dynamic color," she says. A red room can come with a great deal of intensity and energy, and it may not be best for a relaxing bedroom, she says. She mentions that many restaurants are red because the management wants us "to eat a lot and get out." Rude, smart or both? Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/franklin_hunting/" target="_hplink">franklin_hunting</a>
Yellow, just like you thought, might be a a mood-lifter -- who can't smile at a vase full of sunflowers? <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/323/5918/1226.short" target="_hplink"> A 2007 experiment</a> analyzed how people behaved at cocktail parties hosted in three different colored rooms ( yellow, red and blue). The party-goers in the yellow room were more lively and talkative compared with those in the other colored rooms. Holt <a href="http://www.lindaholtinteriors.com/" target="_hplink">suggests choosing yellow for your office</a>, as it may help to improve focus and concentration. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/27089744@N02/" target="_hplink">Mrs B22</a></em>
In that <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/323/5918/1226.short" target="_hplink">same colored-cocktail room study</a>, those who partied in the blue room stayed the longest. The reason may be that blue makes us comfortable. Holt suggests blue for bedroom walls: it has a soothing effect and certain shades decrease our heart rate (she says many spas use blue for that reason). Blue, like green, may also get the creative juices flowing. <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-02/uobc-cbb020409.php" target="_hplink">According to one study,</a> this color boosts our ability to think out of the box. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/" target="_hplink">John-Morgan</a></em>
Think pink and what, exactly, <em>do</em> you think? This hue has a reputation for being girly, fun and maybe even innocent. And in one study, the color lived up to its sweet reputation: <a href="http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1988/pdf/1988-v03n04-p202.pdf" target="_hplink">Research done in the late 70s by Dr. Alexander Schauss</a> found prison inmates to be less hostile when they were in a pink room. In the experiment, a particular shade of pink, called Baker Miller Pink (think classic bubblegum) coated the walls, and the inmates were apparently less abrasive. Does that mean bubble-gum pink will be busting crime anytime soon? Unfortunately, Holt busts this research, noting that the inmates were calmer for about 10 minutes, likely because of the shock they experienced from the unconventional cell interior. "Once the shock value wore off, [the inmates] went right back to being violent and disobedient people," <a href="http://www.lindaholtinteriors.com/" target="_hplink">she says. </a> <a href="http://www.lindaholtinteriors.com/" target="_hplink">Holt</a> continues that pink is just a softer version of red (a stimulating color). If you're looking for a calming color, blue or green is the way to go. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zappowbang/7023638715/in/photostream" target="_hplink">zappowbang</a></em>
Much has been said about white: it's been linked to authority, sterility, spaciousness, purity and more. But what about ... nausea? <a href="http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/nsfall99/labpacketArticles/Final1.HowColorAffectsMoo.html" target="_hplink">A 1999 study</a> </a>found that workers in white offices complained of more headaches and feelings of nausea than those in blue or red offices. <a href="http://www.lindaholtinteriors.com/" target="_hplink">Holt concurs, </a>suggesting that white causes eye fatigue and ill feelings. "Your eye needs to be able to get a break from the glare of white ... even a cream is a better than a bright white," she notes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/" target="_hplink">John-Morgan</a></em>