Pete Foley Innovation

Innovation Based on Behavioral Science


Applying Behavioral and Visual Science to Restaurant Menus

Posted on November 27, 2017 at 12:00 AM

This BBC article (Link below) on some of the science that goes into menu design includes a lot of insights drawn from Behavioral Economics and Visual Science. Interesting in its own right, and also because many of the concepts have the potential to be reapplied across hospitality and retail.  For example, there is obvious reapplication for close analogies such as room service and bar menus.  But also valuable insight for spas, and gyms, and of course general retail and shopper psychology, where several of these principles are already applied. 

Many of the insights in the article are drawn from well known scientists, such as Brian Wansinkat Cornell and Charles Spence at Cambridge.  There is also an interesting reference to embodied linguistic cognition, and how the shape words make in the mouth relate to meaning (think Ramachandrans Kiki-Baba experiments).  As we'd expect, visual attention, framing and cognitive load appear to be important mechanisms,  

I'm a bit sceptical about the use of color, as described.  While color, and color contrast can certainly grab attention, I'm not convinced that a menu provides sufficient context to create the level of meaning suggested here.  I suspect that would require either chromatures (color + texture) or at least some additional conceptual context (think about how differently red is perceived in the context of love versus war).  Apart from that, a lot of useful and reapplicable insights.

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