04/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Blue's Clues: How Color Affects Our Behavior

As a kid, I relished organizing M&Ms by color and eating the "best" ones first and relegating the "gross" tan-colored ones to the trash. To this day, I reach for yellow and red peanut M&Ms first, believing that they're far superior to all other varieties without really understanding why. Then I read about a study that showed these colors to be appetite stimulants. Suddenly, my preference--and that rumor about green M&Ms being aphrodisiacs--didn't seem so crazy.

Most of us recognize that certain colors inspire certain moods (which is why the colors we paint our rooms are so important), but few realize they can shape how we perform and think. They can even affect how things taste. Color psychologists study these kinds of influences on humans and while their findings aren't all-inclusive--many personal factors, like cultural norms and experiences, shape a person's perception of color--they have discovered that color can alter behavior in unexpected ways.

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