When you walk into an eatery for a nice time out, you probably aren’t expecting to be manipulated. You have a seat, are greeted by your -oh-so-nice server, and handed a highly descriptive menu.

That’s where the mind control begins, and you don’t even realize it. Thank psychology for it. To get you to spend more moolah, restaurants employ multiple tactics that are subtle and slick. But menu tricks are one of their greatest tools.

What happens? The design, layout, and wording all play a role in drawing you in and pushing you to order with abandon. Apps, entrees, desserts and drinks are all a go because everything sounds so, so good.

Watch this video to learn about how restaurants lure you into temptation with what is almost scientific precision – marketing science that is!

  1. Position

    In a ploy to get you to pay for the most expensive items on the list, the upper or middle right section of the menu subconsciously takes center stage. Experts say that based on reading patterns, the eyes settle on this part of a menu first, so it makes strategic sense to put the big-ticket items here.

    You may also notice extra spacing or boxes in this area, which both serve to highlight the food that the establishment is trying to get you to splurge on. In contrast, the lower left seems to be the part of the menu where people rarely venture.

  2. Warm Your Heart

    Food descriptions that connect family with the recipes is a surefire way to connect to your psyche. By naming dishes after a person such as “Auntie Clara’s Chocolate Cake”, you will want to recapture memories you have of your own family.

    Banking on nostalgia tends to work in the restaurant’s favor, as studies show that family-oriented menu items can increase sales by almost 30%.

Get in the know by checking out the rest of this clip and to hear from a marketing expert on how to avoid falling into the menu trap.

Something that’s not mentioned in this video? A missing dollar sign next to the price amount plays on the savvy spender’s mind. A whole number like “9” instead of “$9.99” makes a person think they are getting a bargain, but they actually wind up spending more for the entire meal.

In the hopes of selling more of an item, you may also notice graphic photos that entice you, names of dishes in bold fonts, and detailed descriptions that have you practically smelling and tasting the dish. It’s all by design.

How’s your favorite dining spot looking to you now? The next time you eat out, you’ll be aware of some of the mind games being used for profit. Feel free to order whatever you want or have your date order anything too, but at least now you know how to read between the lines!

Have you ever been sucked into menu magnetism mind games? Will you approach restaurant menus differently now? Do you work at a restaurant that is masterful at the menu game?