Hidden Persuaders

Hidden Persuaders

We mostly take the color of things for granted, but could colors affect our behavior, in particular – our willingness to purchase a product? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Bagchi: I certainly feel that consumers are often manipulated.

Rajesh Bagchi is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. He says that when colors like red or blue are used in selling situations like the background color on an online auction – they cansubliminally effect how much we may pay for something.

Bagchi: I would expect these effects to happen below the threshold of consciousness because it’s actually a physiological reaction to colors. Some researchers have shown that just exposure to red actually increases your eye-blink frequency. It increases your heart rate, your respiratory rate. These effects are sort of similar to stress, but, yet again, we’re not in a position to conclusively, you know, link the two and say, “This is why it happens.” But the final effects of red causing aggression, they are very robust, and they sort of replicate across different species.

This aggression the way it manifests depends on the selling mechanism. In an auction setting, when you are very aggressive, you are trying to acquire the object, outbid and fight against the competition. Therefore, red, which leads to higher aggression relative to blue, incites, or entices, people to offer higher bids, and that is why their willingness to pay goes up, because they are trying to win the auction.

Negotiation is somewhat different. So, a person who’s an aggressive negotiator will often try to get the best deal. And that is why when they’re exposed to red, they will negotiate more aggressively with the seller, which will lead to a lower willingness to pay because, oftentimes, your willingness to pay will go down when you’re very, very aggressive.

Well in radio at least, it’s safe to say that we’re not trying to manipulate anyone with colors. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Hidden Persuaders

Could colors affect our willingness to purchase a product?
Air Date:12/15/2014
Scientist:
Transcript:

Hidden Persuaders

We mostly take the color of things for granted, but could colors affect our behavior, in particular - our willingness to purchase a product? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Bagchi: I certainly feel that consumers are often manipulated.

Rajesh Bagchi is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. He says that when colors like red or blue are used in selling situations like the background color on an online auction - they cansubliminally effect how much we may pay for something.

Bagchi: I would expect these effects to happen below the threshold of consciousness because it's actually a physiological reaction to colors. Some researchers have shown that just exposure to red actually increases your eye-blink frequency. It increases your heart rate, your respiratory rate. These effects are sort of similar to stress, but, yet again, we're not in a position to conclusively, you know, link the two and say, "This is why it happens." But the final effects of red causing aggression, they are very robust, and they sort of replicate across different species.

This aggression the way it manifests depends on the selling mechanism. In an auction setting, when you are very aggressive, you are trying to acquire the object, outbid and fight against the competition. Therefore, red, which leads to higher aggression relative to blue, incites, or entices, people to offer higher bids, and that is why their willingness to pay goes up, because they are trying to win the auction.

Negotiation is somewhat different. So, a person who's an aggressive negotiator will often try to get the best deal. And that is why when they're exposed to red, they will negotiate more aggressively with the seller, which will lead to a lower willingness to pay because, oftentimes, your willingness to pay will go down when you're very, very aggressive.

Well in radio at least, it's safe to say that we're not trying to manipulate anyone with colors. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.