The Psychological Effects of Food Colors
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 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 can exert a sometimes dramatic impact on the expectations, and hence on the subsequent experiences, of consumers (or participants in the laboratory). However, should the color not match the taste, then a negatively valenced disconfirmation of expectation may well result. Food colors can have rather different meanings and hence give rise to differing expectations, in different age groups, not to mention in different cultures. 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 can modulate the multisensory perception of flavor, as well as our appetitive and avoidance-related food behaviors.