Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Cereal Box Psychology: Why Cap'n Crunch is making eye contact with your kid

by Take Two®

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Are you being watched? See if you think these cereal characters are making eye contact if you position yourself lower as if you were a child.

You might not notice it when you walk down the cereal aisle, but your child does: You're being watched.

A Cornell University study shows that cereal mascots are designed to make eye contact with you.

For example, children's cereal — placed on shelves that are already lower to the ground — have characters whose eyes are trained to look at a downward angle. That means they're looking directly at kids.

Meanwhile, cereals aimed at adults are placed at a higher height and have characters that look straight ahead, meaning they make eye contact as well. Researcher Aviva Musicus says that it's a clever marketing strategy that can help sales. 

"If you show someone a spokes-character making eye contact with you, it increases trust and your desire to purchase that brand of cereal," said Musicus on Take Two. 

Knowing that could actually be helpful for parents as well as people trying to get kids to eat better.

"There's a new push to have more marketing for fruits and vegetables," said Musicus, "So, 'Sesame Street' characters are being used to market fruits and vegetables to kids to really encourage them to eat healthier."

Have you noticed this yourself in the grocery store? And what's your strategy for getting your own kids to keep away from unhealthier foods?

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