On the psychological effects of food color
Color is perhaps the single most important product-intrinsic sensory cue when it comes to setting our expectations regarding the likely taste and flavor of food and drink. To date, a large body of laboratory research has demonstrated that changing the hue or intensity/saturation of the color of a variety of different food and beverage items exerts a sometimes dramatic impact on the expectations, and hence on the subsequent experiences, of consumers (or participants in the sensory science laboratory). However, should the color not match the taste, then a negatively valenced disconfirmation of expectation may well result. Different age groups have been shown to respond somewhat differently to color in food. At the same time, cultural and historical differences in the meaning of color in food have also been identified. Genetic factors may also modulate the psychological impact of food color. By gaining a better understanding of the sensory and hedonic expectations elicited by food color in different groups of individuals, researchers are slowly coming to understand the various ways in which what we see modulates the multisensory perception of flavor, and certain of our appetitive and avoidance-related food behaviors.