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Avoid eye contact with your breakfast cereal

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Infrogmation / Flickr

It's hard to find a kids' breakfast cereal without some sort of cartoony mascot grinning from the front of its box. These characters obviously affect how much a child might want a given cereal, but did you know that the direction of their gaze matters too? Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab noticed that most cereals targeting children had "spokes-characters" who were looking down from the front of the box — which, for a child looking up, results in eye contact. A second study identified the effect of this phenomenon, with brand trust increasing by 16 percent and brand connection growing by 28 percent when eye contact is made. Cornell's researchers suggest using this information about our vulnerability to subconscious manipulation to apply similar marketing to healthier foods.