Fast-Food Signs Cause Stress

Researchers find the mere sight of a fast-food sign makes people feel impatient and time-stressed.


Studies suggest people can suffer from fast food without actually eating it. Researchers at the University of Toronto found that incidental and unconscious exposure to fast-food symbols—a McDonald’s sign, for example—immediately causes feelings of impatience and feeling stressed for time. Researchers found that subjects, after seeing the golden arches, would begin reading at a faster rate, as if pressed for time. In another experiment, subjects became impatient about financial decisions after seeing a fast-food sign, choosing smaller, immediate payments over larger, delayed ones. Researchers believe the unconscious priming is due to 50 years of fast-food marketing, “a culture that emphasizes time efficiency and immediate gratification.”

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