People Prefer Things In The Middle
August 31, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
CHESTER, England, Aug. 31 (UPI) — People given free choice of products or politicians favor those in the middle of a row or a column, British researchers suggest.
Researchers Paul Rodway, Astrid Schepman and Jordana Lambert of the University of Chester analyzed three but related experiments in which they tested the association between the location of an item in a series and how often that item is selected as preferable.
In the first experiment, 100 participants evaluated 17 rows of pictures. Half were asked to choose which of the five pictures in each row they “most prefer” with the other half choosing the one they “least prefer.” A significant trend toward the item in the middle was identified, the study said.
A second experiment mirrored the first except that the pictures were arranged vertically and only the “most prefer” questionnaire was used. The trend was to choose items occupying central locations, the researchers said.
In the third experiment, the researchers asked participants to choose among a display of actual pairs of socks. Half of those surveyed viewed the column of socks at head level and the remainder observed it at thigh height. Again, the the so called “center-stage effect,” prevailed, the study says.
“It’s possible that this preference applies in a range of social contexts, including televised political debates where being in the middle may convey an advantage,” Rodway concluded.