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Location, Location, Location

When you select a product from a shelf, you select it based on your personal preferences, right? You might consider color, size, functionality, price. What about its position on the shelf? If you think a product’s location has no influence on your buying decision, think again.

A recent study in Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests that location may influence not only the products you buy in stores and online, but other day-to-day choices, such as the person you select to complete a task, the item you select on a menu or the way you respond to surveys.

In the U.K. study, University of Chester researchers Paul Rodway, Astrid Schepma and Jordana Lambert tested the association between the location of an item in a series and how often that item was selected as the preference. The results?

There is a clear tendency toward selecting the item in the middle of a row, both horizontal and vertical.

This means that, although you might correctly assume that items near the bottom of a shelf are least-chosen, items near the top are not the preferred choice either. Rather, the ones near the middle fly off the shelf the quickest.

So next time you’re considering which soap to buy or which political candidate is doing best in a debate, ask yourself whether you’d make the same call if your choice were occupying the spot on the end.

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