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Consumer Reports: Restaurant science

CBS12 anchor Eric Roby explains the science behind what makes people eat more in restaurants. (WPEC/Consumer Reports)

Your favorite restaurants may be manipulating you to spend more.

"Once you enter a restaurant, there's a pretty good chance that, to some degree, intentionally or unintentionally, you're being manipulated," said Stephen Zagor, dean of the School of Restaurant and Culinary Management program at the Institute of Culinary Education.

Restaurants place either profitable or signature items in the upper right hand corner of menus because that's where most consumers look first.

Boxes or brackets are more likely to capture consumers' attention.

Also, beware of expensive items strategically positioned to make other nearby dishes look like a good value.

Music also influences not only what you eat, but how fast you eat.

"The faster you chew, the faster you eat," Zagor said. "And studies have said that the energy sometimes even leads to more consumption of food."

Noise can be a factor as well.

"Noise is a lot like salt in the hands of a chef," Danny Meyer said. "Too much is wrong and too little is wrong."

The stakes for restaurants are higher than ever since it's become easier to order food and have it delivered and the popularity of ordering meal kits.

Restaurants know they need to make you happy and keep you wanting more, even if you don't know why.

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