A new study has shown that the ambiance of fast food restaurants urges us to eat more. This research, conducted by Brian Wansink and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum, looked at the effect of surroundings on food consumption. They gave half of a Hardee’s fast food restaurant a makeover with new paint, jazz music, and soft lighting. They then studied three main areas of eating: what customers ordered, the speed the ate at, and if they went back for more food.
The results from the fine dining section were surprising. Customers ordered the same amount of food, ate it much slower, and enjoyed the food much more. The fast food section ate their meals very quickly and ate more calories of food. While the bought amount of food was the same for both sections, the fine dining group didn’t eat all of the food.
These results were opposite of the hypothesis. The researchers believed that the customers in the fine dining area would consume a great amount of food. They thought the relaxed ambiance would encourage people to stay longer and order more food as a result.
A possible explanation of this result is that eating slower made the customers realize they were full, while the fast food side ate all their meal before having that body signal.
The study suggests that fast food restaurants that wish for consumers to have a more enjoyable experience should create a more relaxing ambiance. Customers would purchase the same amount of food and enjoy it much more.