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Pavlovian Processes in Consumer Choice: The Physical Presence of a Good Increases Willingness-to-Pay

  • Benjamin Bushong
  • Lindsay M. King
  • Colin F. Camerer
  • Antonio Rangel
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    This paper describes a series of laboratory experiments studying whether the form in which items are displayed at the time of decision affects the dollar value that subjects place on them. Using a Becker-DeGroot auction under three different conditions — (i) text displays, (ii) image displays, and (iii) displays of the actual items — we find that subjects' willingness-to-pay is 40-61 percent larger in the real than in the image and text displays. Furthermore, follow-up experiments suggest the presence of the real item triggers preprogrammed consummatory Pavlovian processes that promote behaviors that lead to contact with appetitive items whenever they are available. (JEL C91, D03, D12, D87)

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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (September)
    Pages: 1556-71

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1556-71
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1556
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    1. Solnick, Sara J., 2007. "Cash and alternate methods of accounting in an experimental game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 316-321, February.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
    3. repec:oup:qjecon:v:99:y:1984:i:3:p:507-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    5. Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
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