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Fall 2009
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Mindless Eating Theater

By Ted Boscia

Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, directed by Brian Wansink, conducts as many as 20 studies annually to unlock the subtle psychological cues that trigger people to overeat. Since establishing the lab at the University of Illinois in 1997, Wansink and his team of researchers have embedded themselves at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, Super Bowl parties, movie theaters, bars, fast food joints, university dining halls, and even people’s homes to observe diners in everyday settings and determine why they make certain food choices. They also run experiments using hidden scales and two-way mirrors in the Food and Brand Lab in Warren Hall, which can be outfitted to resemble a dining room, living room, or home kitchen.

A group of undergraduate researchers in Wansink’s Cornell lab wrote, directed, and starred in short vignettes to demonstrate some of Wansink’s most memorable studies from the past 12 years. View the Mindless Eating principles in action below, and learn more at