Three simple psychological tricks restaurants use to get you to pay more

A study found simply using more adjectives to describe menu items can make customers think dishes are worth more

Mollie Goodfellow
Tuesday 13 October 2015 17:46 BST
Extraneous adjectives and clever menu placement are among the techniques
Extraneous adjectives and clever menu placement are among the techniques (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Restaurants are tricking customers into spending more through a number of psychological tricks, according to users of an internet forum.

In a thread on the Quora forum, users suggested various techniques restaurants were using to manipulate diners via behavioural psychology.

Using adjectives

A study found that the more description there is on a menu, the less expensive the dishes will seem to the customer as they will believe they are getting more value for money, meaning we often need to wade throught reams of adjectives before deciding what to choose.

Putting the expensive dishes at the top

Another restaurant decoy includes listing the more expensive dishes at the top of the list, in the hope this will emphasise the fact the other items are cheaper in comparison.

For example, one study gave two sets of participants either an $8 buffet or a $4 buffet. In fact, both buffets contained exactly the same food - but those given the ‘$8’ buffet reported their food being 11 per cent tastier than those given the $4 option.

Verbal reasoning

When restaurants offer up specials, they are almost always offered verbally.

Waiting staff will know customers don’t wish to appear stingy by asking the prices and that they often rely on staff knowledge as to what dish is best on, or off, the menu.

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