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Why Do We Gravitate Toward Middle Items When We Shop?

anthonyalbright, flickr

When you’re at the grocery store and reach for certain brands, is it because you trust them or because they’re simply where you can best see them? Researchers say it could be a little of both.

A study that tracked consumers’ eye-movements found people tend to focus on the objects in the middle of shelves right before they make a selection, regardless of whether those objects are food, movies or something else entirely.

And it didn’t even matter if the item was at eye-level — placement in the middle of the display is what mattered most. What’s more, the subjects didn’t even realize they were showing a preference for the centrally-placed items.

It’s not the first study showing this kind of thing. Other research has shown people seem to gravitate towards the middle seat at a table, the middle stall in a public restroom, and the middle item in a sea of otherwise random objects.

Now if only politicians with extreme views would take a page from that playbook.

[Scientific American]

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