Like with most businesses the restaurant goal is to make more money and in the last decade, psychology has been an essential platform to manipulate and hack your brain in order to spend more.
♦ The mind hacking begins with the menu, more and more often restaurants avoid inserting the currency sign to indicate the cost of the food (for example the tuna salad cost is now 9 instead of $9) and studies have shown that people spend more when menus don’t have dollar signs probably because this will distract them from thinking how much the final bill will be.
♦ Researchers have found that by adding colorful descriptions can increase sells by up to 28% for example instead of Caesar Salad the dish will be called Fresh Caesar Salad with Succulent Grilled Chicken and Homemade Croutons finished with our signature Caesar dressing. It’s the same dish but the way is described makes it more appetizing and exclusive.
♦ Restaurants and bars can also influence both how much you spend and how much you consume by using glasses and dishes with certain shapes and sizes. One of the techniques is to change their size of the dishes during your meal to take advantage of what’s known as Delboeuf Illusion ( 2 identical circles look different based on the size of circles around them ). This illusion can make the same portion look bigger depending on the size of the plate, studies have found that you actually feel more full when you eat a meal from a smaller dish. That’s why All You Can Eat buffet tend to keep their plateware small so you think you’re eating more meanwhile restaurants where you pay based on what you order tend to serve their entrees on large platters hoping to convince you still have room for dessert. Certain shapes can also make you drink faster, researchers found that we drink beer faster from curved glasses than straight ones. ♦ As successful Chefs know better than anyone else plating also matters, in one study researchers presented 60 people with a salad of the exact same ingredients plated in 4 different ways ( from basic to artistic presentation ) and the result was that ultimately the exact same salad plated in a unique way was 30% tastier than the other salads.
♦ The biggest “trick” is upselling, although it’s such an industry standard that it can’t really be called a trick. Upselling is convincing a customer to opt for the more expensive option. For instance, if you order a gin and tonic, the water or bartender will ask which gin you want. Why? “Because they know the more expensive brand names are the only ones you can name.
If you want to avoid this, just reply that you want the house gin. If you want to do this and not seem cheap, ask what brand they pour. Often it’ll be something you’ve heard of anyway, so you can tell the waiter that it’ll be just fine. And maybe you’ll find out that their house brand is something terrible, in which case you just avoided a bad drink
♦ A small study published by Cornell University investigated the effect of candy on tipping. It found that a piece of chocolate placed on the plate with the check increased the amount tipped, and that–up to a point–more chocolates equaled bigger tips. More interesting than this result was the reasoning behind it. The study mentions the familiar list of psychological tricks employed by wait staff everywhere: “briefly touching one’s customers, squatting during the initial contact, making additional non-task visits, and displaying a maximal smile when introducing oneself to one’s customers.” Waiters even resort to writing thank you or “drawing a happy, smiling face on the back” of the check.
So if you try to reduce how much you eat and drink or how much you spend you might want to consider somebody’s tricks when you go out for dinner or meet up at the bar with your friends because practically everything about that place is trying to sell you something.