Jul 25, 2014

Placebo and Color Affect

Researchers found the color of a package and a pill makes a difference in how it works. In one study, every patient was given the exact same sedative, but some patients received it in a blue pill and others in an orange pill. The blue pill takers reported falling asleep 30 minutes faster, and sleeping 30 minutes longer, than the orange pill takers.

You likely know that you can give a person with a headache a Tic Tac, say it is medicine, and it may eliminate a headache just like an aspirin would, for reasons science doesn't completely understand. This phenomenon is also affected by color. In other words, how you perceive effectiveness affects effectiveness and color matters.

Subjects, in another study were told they would get a sedative or a stimulant, when they were actually getting placebos. Sixty six percent of the subjects who took blue pills reported feeling less alert, compared to only twenty six percent of those who took pink pills. It is because we have been conditioned to think that blue is tranquil.

In yet another study, when researchers put various fake medicine packages in front of subjects, the subjects picked certain colors of boxes over others. Warm colors like brown and red were perceived as more potent, especially if the shades were darker. This is why heart medicines are often red and brown, while skin medicines are yellow, and sleeping pills are often blue. Painkillers are most often white. All carefully chosen to match our perceptions.

The majority of fast food chains have red and yellow or orange in their logo, because these are stimulating colors. Lowfat containers, more often than not have blue on the package.

Color associations are also cultural. In America blue is a calming and peaceful color, but in Italy it is associated with the national soccer team. Researchers found that, rather than making him drowsy, a blue pill might send an Italian singing into the night.

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