New Study Suggests We May Choose Things That Look Easy to Grab



If someone gave you two objects, and told you to choose one to pick up, how would you decide? New research suggests that your brain may tell you to pick up the one that appears easiest to pick up. If this seems strange, it actually makes a lot more sense than you would think. Sian Beilock wrote a book entitled How the Body Knows Its Mind, which describes how our bodies affect our brains. The question of the two objects is included in this book, along with many others.

When it comes to the two objects, Beilock conducted a study with 15 undergraduate volunteers. She would place two random objects in front of a volunteer in different positions, for example one with a handle facing the volunteer, the other item pointed away. Beilock instructed the participants to choose one object they liked better and put it in a box 16 different times. Overall, the participants preferred the object that was easier to pick up 63 percent of the time.

This indicates that our brains make choices, but may not necessarily be based on if we actually like a pair of scissors more than a spoon. Our brains may actually prefer items that look easier to grab. If this research is conclusive, it could mean that subtle movements in packaging of products or their placement could have an effect on whether someone wants to buy them.

A major soda manufacturer has already applied the theory when they redesigned their bottles to appear easier to grab, thus making them look more desirable. They introduced a smaller version of their soda in Kenya and sales went through the roof, especially among children. This has dieticians and obesity experts worried that the new packaging could be introduced in countries where there are high numbers of overweight citizens. If our brains choose the bottle of soda because it seems easy to grab, even if we know it’s unhealthy, it could be a dangerous game.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Ken Walton

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