The original idea behind fast food is to increase efficiency, allowing people to quickly finish a meal so that they can move on to the other matters. But the researchers have found that the mere exposure to fast food and related symbols can make people impatient, increasing preference for time saving products, and reducing the willingness to save.
The participants who eat fast food frequently, also preferred time-saving products such as two-in-one shampoo, over the regular products. They also exhibited greater reluctance for saving, which includes choosing a smaller immediate payment rather than opting for a much larger delayed payment.
In one experiment, the researchers flashed fast food symbols, such as the golden arch of McDonald's, on a computer screen for a few milliseconds- so quick that the participants couldn't consciously identify what they saw.
They found that this unconscious exposure increased the reading speed of the participants in a subsequent task compared to those in a control condition. The researchers reiterates that there was no advantage for them, finishing sooner.
"Fast food represents a culture of time efficiency and instant gratification. The problem is that the goal of saving time gets activated upon exposure to fast food regardless of whether time is a relevant factor in the context," says the experts.
The study is to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.