Apr 5, 2019
A green light over the salad bar and a red light over the burgers and fries triggers healthier and environmentally more responsible food choices. Experimental psychologists at London’s Queen Mary University set up a lunchtime canteen and studied the choices of over 400 subjects.
They conducted two experiments. In the first, one group of subjects saw traffic signals over the food reflecting its caloric content and healthfulness. In the second experiment, two traffic signals were present: one again representing the health rating of the food; the second signal revealed the environmental friendliness and carbon emission quotient of the food. The control groups saw no lights.
Even though the investigators presupposed that multiple lights would be confusing, the group choosing food while exposed to the one signal for calorie count but also the group exposed to indicators for both calories and carbon emissions choose healthier options. The bonus was that the group also exposed to the environmental signals also chose meals representing fewer carbon emissions.
The traffic light is the ubiquitous signal that governs our behavior both walking and driving. It turns out that the intuitive nature of this graphic also works at the dining room table.
Magda Osman, Katie Thornton. Traffic light labelling of meals to promote sustainable consumption and healthy eating. Appetite, 2019; 138: 60 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.03.015
#Trafficlight #calories #carbonemissions # dieting #graphics