OPINION12 February 2018

Model behaviour

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When it comes to determining human behaviour, objective reality is a surprisingly irrelevant variable, writes Rory Sutherland. 

You probably don’t know this, but your television is cheating you. The same applies to the computer screen on which you may be reading this article (and, in a different way, the colour pictures in magazines). 

When the screen shows pure blue, green or red, it is more or less telling the truth. Blue lights produce pure blue photons, green lights produce green ones and red lights produce – yes – red photons. Each pixel on the screen contains three LCD lights – one in each of these colours. If the red lights alone are displayed, the screen is red. And it really is red. 

But yellow – TV yellow is a big fat lie. It looks yellow. But it isn’t really yellow. Not like a banana is yellow. It’s a mixture of red and green light that hacks our optical apparatus.

The yellow is created in our brains – not on the ...