Mannequin Eye Contact and 7 Other Ways Retailers Get Us to Spend More

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When it comes to shopping, your subconscious mind makes the decision to buy several seconds before your conscious mind is aware of it.

Neuromarketers attempt to peer inside our heads to find out what drives a purchase decision. Tools of the trade include eye-tracking technology, electroencephalograms to measure electrical activity in the brain, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, tracking blood flow in the brain to detect areas of activity. But much of the science merely confirms what marketers, advertisers and retailers have known forever: Buyers aren't convinced; they're wooed. "You're entering a zone of seduction as soon as you enter the department store, and the only purpose is to get you to buy more," says branding guru Martin Lindstrom.

Some tips to help you resist temptation and protect your budget: When you shop, clear your schedule and bring a list. Shop alone. Wait before you buy, whether you take a half-hour break or you go home to sleep on a major purchase decision. And be aware of these stealthy triggers that retailers use to lure you into spending.

Anne Kates Smith
Executive Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Anne Kates Smith brings Wall Street to Main Street, with decades of experience covering investments and personal finance for real people trying to navigate fast-changing markets, preserve financial security or plan for the future. She oversees the magazine's investing coverage,  authors Kiplinger’s biannual stock-market outlooks and writes the "Your Mind and Your Money" column, a take on behavioral finance and how investors can get out of their own way. Smith began her journalism career as a writer and columnist for USA Today. Prior to joining Kiplinger, she was a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report and a contributing columnist for TheStreet. Smith is a graduate of St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., the third-oldest college in America.