The Center-Stage Effect

When there are other options, how should you present your position? Research on the center-stage effect suggests that usually the center is central to success.
A recent study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology reports three experiments on the center-stage effect. In the first two experiments, 100 participants had to choose between 17 pictures arranged horizontally or vertically. In the third experiment, they had to choose among a display of actual pairs of socks. In all experiments, participants usually preferred central locations. Previous studies showed that this center-stage effect also applies to non-identical items.

Of course, the implications are larger than just the optimal arrangement of pictures or socks. As one of the researchers pointed out, “it’s possible that this preference applies in a range of social contexts, including televised political debates where being in the middle may convey an advantage.”

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