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Psychologists have been using eye tracking to study the human mind since the early part of the 19th century, and businesses have been using it to reveal consumer behavior for well over a decade. And now, it seems that the federal government is finally catching up.


Eye tracking can show how people process the vast amount of visual information presented on food and drug labels. Researchers trace eye movements to determine which design elements attract consumers’ attention and which ones they ignore. As consumers who are bombarded with dense packaging information daily, most of us would welcome labels that are easier (and quicker) to decipher.


With so many food recalls and drug warnings – most of which are issued by the FDA itself – reading lengthy and confusing labels can be a task for which busy consumers simply don’t have time. Research can show, for example, which sections of a label take the most time to figure out. A consumer might stare at one particular section for a longer period of time because the information is too convoluted to extract the necessary information and move on quickly.



Or, it might reveal which parts of a label are most important to consumers as their eyes move to that particular information first. Then, companies can place this information front-and-center so consumers can get what they need and get on with their lives.