In a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers observed that humans are naturally drawn to glossy objects — and the reason, they think, is that we’re thirsty.
“The preference for “glossy” stems from an innate preference for fresh water as a resource,” the study authors said.
Looking to evolutionary psychology for clues, they theorize that shiny and glossy surfaces remind us of water because we need it to survive. Detecting sources of fresh water is an instinctive daily task.
The study authors found that this glossy-allure holds true for both adults and young children. In the study, a group that was given crackers (to heighten their thirst) showed a significantly higher preference for glossy pictures over matte pictures than the non-parched group.
You can imagine the predicament this creates when it comes to resisting soda.
Those glossy bottles and shiny cans? They could be subliminally promising to quench our thirst. And the watery element is sure played up in soda advertisements, where beverage containers appear extra dewy and surrounded with splashes of liquid.
Have soda makers tapped into our non-conscious preference for glossy, watery surfaces? It might seem far fetched, but more thought goes into soda drink packaging than you might realize… or want to know.
Americans are Dehydrated
The lure of glossy beverage containers could be impacted by the fact that we’re chronically thirsty. Up to 75% of Americans fall short of the daily 10 cups recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Our nationwide tendency to skimp on water probably has us running around in a state of water-hunting.
Enter: the glistening oases of refrigerated cases and vending machines. They’re often easier to find than drinking water when we’re outside the home, especially since water is becoming harder to buy in commercial environments — the sale of bottled water has been banned in some places.
All of this does not bode well for our state of hydration. If high-gloss packaging drives us to buy more soda and other bottled, sugary or caffeinated beverages, then we’re actually increasing our dehydration.
It’s a vicious cycle. We’re thirsty. We buy non-water beverages. We get further dehydrated. And the more “other” beverages we drink, the less water we’re likely to consume, because who wants to be in the bathroom all day?
Water is essential to our health. According to Mayo Clinic, the consequences of dehydration are fatigue, digestion trouble, less joint lubrication (hello sports injuries) and several other ailments. Not drinking enough water will also make it hard to lose weight.
Americans may be “alive and functioning” with only an average of 2.5 glasses of water a day, but clearly we are not functioning optimally.
The soda crisis in the United States is big enough to warrant a national Soda Summit in Washington, DC every year to address it. Let’s hope that this year, they plan to increase awareness about the subliminal appeal of soda drink packaging.
But we aren’t helpless: we can fight the lure by staying more hydrated. Quench your thirst with water before leaving the house and you won’t be subconsciously drawn to those glossy bottles at the convenience store.
As for getting in the habit of drinking more water, it starts with a plan. Carla will help you make one: check out her advice on drinking water for weight loss.