The Appeal of the Middle

New research (summarized by the BPS Research Digest) from Paul RodwayAstrid Schepman, and Jordana Lambert demonstrates that people seem to prefer items located in the middle:

“In replication of the centre-stage effect, it was found that when participants were presented with a line of five pictures, they preferred pictures in the centre rather than at either end,” the authors write. “This applies when the line of pictures was arranged horizontally or vertically and when participants selected from five pairs of identical socks arranged vertically.”  

The authors also discuss the policy implications of their work:

“If item location influences preference during the millions of purchasing choices that occur every day, it will be exerting a substantial influence on consumer behaviour. Moreover, choices from a range of options are made in many other contexts (e.g. legal and occupational), and it remains to be investigated whether the central preference remains with other formats and whether it extends to other types of decision.”

Okay, let’s see how this research holds up. Do you think that this blog post was:

  1. So-so.
  2. Fantastic! One of the most interesting things I’ve read all year!
  3. So-so.

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  1. Bill Ogorodny says:

    This is very interesting. When I worked for Hills Department Stores in the 1980′s they placed larger items on the right on the shelves. For example, Head and Shoulders Shampoo 20 oz would be placed to the right of Head and Shoulders Shampoo 10 oz. The thought was most people are right handed and would reach for the larger size. This study might change the merchandising techniques of retailers in the future.

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  2. ryan says:

    Are the authors saying that this is more powerful than the primacy or recency effect?

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  3. browolf says:

    I also congratulate your choice architecture.

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  4. Sandra says:

    clever article… I give it a 5/10…

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