FEATURE9 January 2017

In The Blink of an Eye

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Scientists have found that the way in which shoppers look at, and assess, products on the shelf can influence their response to the goods. By Jane Bainbridge


Eye movement, when scanning supermarket shelves or viewing items online, is often directionally specific. In shops, people look at products in a particular order. Online or when watching TV ads, people often look in a particular direction when processing text, animation or dynamic product images. 

But what Hao Shen from the Department of Marketing, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)Business School, and Akshay Rao from the Department of Marketing, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, US, have discovered is that if the direction of eye movement used during a product evaluation is perceived by the brain as ‘easy’ then the product evaluation
is enhanced. 

The researchers carried out three studies to show that when people re-employ a directional motor procedure – used in a prior, unrelated task – to evaluate a product, it results in a sense of fluency, which is then misattributed to the product under evaluation. 

“There is a lot of ...