The psychological design tricks McDonald's uses to tempt you into buying its preferred menu items

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My decades long research has found that these design effects are rendered useless if you never go to McDonald’s.


“Our relationship with fast food is complicated. It’s pleasurable because it tastes good,”
Are you effing kidding me? There are so many issues with fast food, I don’t even know where to start. It mostly tastes like shit and has a nutrition value to match. Yes, most persons’ brains know it is bad for you but millions eat it anyway. If there is anything in this world that we can control it is what we eat. We can have a direct decision in what we put into our bodies. Yes, I know there are some economically downtrodden folks who live in food deserts. I’m not talking about these folks. I’m talking about people who are financially able and can make infinitely better choices of what they eat. Fast food is garbage, real, unfettered garbage. It leads to major health consequences. Just look at our so-called President. This is your brain on fast food. Fast food = Facebook food. Just don’t do it because it is convenient, respect your body and your mind and give yourself a break today… not at McDonalds.


Wish I could give you more likes.


Yes, this whole table is unhealthy for human consumption.


Honestly, is it surprising to anyone that fast food restaurants use large signage and huge,well-photographed photos of their food in healthy scenarios to encourage purchasing?

They’ve been doing this sort of thing for 70-80 years. This isn’t any different than candy-sweet kids’ cereals justifying their place at the table by showing a bowl surrounded by eggs, toast, and lots of fresh fruit – “part of this complete breakfast!” – which I knew was some silly BS when I was six years old.


Wendy would never lie to you.


The movement thing isn’t 100% BS but (disclaimer: I am not an evolutionary psychologist) it’s being a bit over-pitched, I think. Your eye – especially your peripheral vision – is especially good at detecting movement, presumably for predator/prey tracking purposes. This has UX implications (alerts should move rather than change color if you want people to notice them), and those same implications probably have benefits for menu design of this sort (jiggle the items you want people to look at). But I don’t think that the predator argument works on quite the level this article is pitching.


They also used a physiological trick on my digestive tract that’s kept me away for decades.


By “traditional economists” you surely must mean economists who haven’t paid attention to the discipline since Herbert Simon developed the notion of “bounded rationality” in the 1950’s, or any of the work in behavioral economics that followed, e.g. that of Kahneman and Tversky.

Really, haven’t we all experienced enough 21st century postmodern madness to agree (even with big evil corporations) that humans aren’t perfectly rational beings? Haven’t we also experienced enough of that madness to admit that the illusion of rationality is a very useful one? (And like all tools, you don’t need to use it for every situation)


Hah! Your digestive track knows better! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


preferred menu items

Had a good laugh at that one.


From McDonalds’ perspective, the important thing is that it works - it doesn’t matter so much in the short term if they are wrong about why. And they probably have the data to show it does work.


I feel about fast food the way I feel about bottled water, gay marriage and abortions. Don’t like it? Then don’t do it.


this sounds less like some evil, devious thing and more like just standard marketing and design. but +1 for effort, i guess.


I haven’t seen an update on the figures yet, but ever since they announced back in 2010 that health insurers have billions invested into fast food companies, these overt tactics aimed at increasing consumption of highly unhealthy foods have struck me as a real and deliberate attack on American society.


Thank you for introducing the term bounded rationality. The interesting thing for me is realizing that it is totally rational to put bounds on the efforts I expend trying to be rational. And yet taking extra time to decide how to make decisions is often totally rational.


What about heroin?

I will check, as I don’t go to mcdonald’s often enough to be sure, but I don’t think that they picture their more expensive menus with water or salad in Europe. Apparently, they don’t try to compete on the “health-conscious” customers here.