We All Make Black-And-White Decisions
We are always told that life is not black and white. That gray areas exist, and that they are often times murky decisions we must make. Turns out, we don't really listen to that. Researchers have shown that when faced with making a decision and the information is laid out against black-and-white background, people tend to make far more dogmatic choices.
It also seems that when surrounded by other colors, the subjects in the study tended to make more middle-ground decisions.
This study could help us unravel the complex set of stimuli that our body subconsciously perceives as we are making decisions or given information. For instance, the color scheme of a news program, or subtitles such as Fox News's "Fair and Balanced" all do affect us in more ways than we consciously perceive.
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Other research has shown that physical stimuli can affect the decision making process. For instance, when someone receives a cold shoulder, they do in fact feel physically colder. Or that when holding a warm beverage, people tend to view strangers in a more "warm" or favorable light.
"We now find that judgment style can also be influenced by metaphors such as black-and-white thinking," said researcher Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge who was involved in the study.
The study involved a series of five experiments. In one, 11 participants were recruited and asked to read a fictional story about a man stealing drugs for his wife's cancer treatment because he could not afford them. Some participants read the story with a black-and-white checkered background, others with a gray border, and some with a yellow and blue border.
Another test asked another group of 130 online volunteers questions about topics such as smoking, infidelity, and other "moral-or-immoral" concepts.
The final study involved asking questions based on certain scenarios. In some cases, the wording was skewed onscreen, and in others appeared perfectly parallel.
The imbalanced wording provided the same results as having a black-and-white checkered background. The participants demonstrated noticeably stronger and more dogmatic decision-making processes.
The research still has to be peer-reviewed, but looks promising.