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Price perception and confirmation bias in the context of a VAT increase

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  • Christandl, Fabian
  • Fetchenhauer, Detlef
  • Hoelzl, Erik
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    Abstract

    This paper examines a potential confirmation bias in price perception in consequence to a real-world event and different explanations for such a confirmation bias. In a panel design conducted 2 months before and after a raise in value-added tax (VAT), 303 participants had to estimate the current prices for four products affected and four products not affected by this raise in VAT and the anticipated or recalled prices of these products. Before the VAT increase, an undifferentiated belief in strong future price increases was prevalent. After the VAT increase, a confirmation bias was found: in retrospect, participants reported price increases that were significantly higher than the official price development and in line with an undifferentiated belief in marked price increases. Two theoretical explanations for confirmation bias, i.e., the biased use of price information and the selective distortion of memory, fit the data.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 131-141

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:1:p:131-141

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

    Related research

    Keywords: Confirmation bias Perceived inflation Taxes Memory;

    References

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    1. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
    2. Brachinger, Hans Wolfgang, 2008. "A new index of perceived inflation: Assumptions, method, and application to Germany," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 433-457, August.
    3. Christandl, Fabian & Fetchenhauer, Detlef, 2009. "How laypeople and experts misperceive the effect of economic growth," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 381-392, June.
    4. Helmut Jungermann & Hans Brachinger & Julia Belting & Katarzyna Grinberg & Elisabeth Zacharias, 2007. "The Euro Changeover and the Factors Influencing Perceived Inflation," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 405-419, December.
    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
    6. Gärling, Tommy & Gamble, Amelie, 2008. "Perceived inflation and expected future prices in different currencies," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 401-416, August.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    8. Parsley, David C, 1996. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability in the Short and Long Run: New Evidence from the United States," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 323-41, August.
    9. Greitemeyer, Tobias & Schulz-Hardt, Stefan & Traut-Mattausch, Eva & Frey, Dieter, 2005. "The influence of price trend expectations on price trend perceptions: Why the Euro seems to make life more expensive?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-548, August.
    10. Debelle, Guy & Lamont, Owen, 1997. "Relative Price Variability and Inflation: Evidence from U.S. Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 132-52, February.
    11. Pruitt, Stephen W. & Reilly, Robert J. & Hoffer, George E., 1988. "The effect of media presentation on the formation of economic expectations: Some initial evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 315-325, September.
    12. Eva Traut-Mattausch & Tobias Greitemeyer & Dieter Frey & Stefan Schulz-Hardt, 2007. "Illusory Price Increases after the Euro Changeover in Germany: An Expectancy-Consistent Bias," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 421-434, December.
    13. Haferkamp, Alexandra & Fetchenhauer, Detlef & Belschak, Frank & Enste, Dominik, 2009. "Efficiency versus fairness: The evaluation of labor market policies by economists and laypeople," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 527-539, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gärling, Tommy & Gamble, Amelie & Christandl, Fabian, 2013. "Income increases do not compensate for perceived inflation—A price-consumption anomaly," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 11-15.
    2. Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Giorgio Topa, 2011. "Expectations of inflation: the biasing effect of thoughts about specific prices," Staff Reports 489, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Azar, Ofer H., 2013. "Competitive strategy when consumers are affected by reference prices," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 327-340.

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