IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Selling to Overconfident Consumers

  • Michael D. Grubb

Consumers may overestimate the precision of their demand forecasts. This overconfidence creates an incentive for both monopolists and competitive firms to offer tariffs with included quantities at zero marginal cost, followed by steep marginal charges. This matches observed cellular phone service pricing plans in the United States and elsewhere. An alternative explanation with common priors can be ruled out in favor of overconfidence based on observed customer usage patterns for a major US cellular phone service provider. The model can be reinterpreted to explain the use of flat rates and late fees in rental markets, and teaser rates on loans. Nevertheless, firms may benefit from consumers losing their overconfidence. (JEL D12, L11, L96)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

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

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1770-1807

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1770-1807
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.1770
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1209-1248.
  2. Kaur, Amarjot & Prakasa Rao, B.L.S. & Singh, Harshinder, 1994. "Testing for Second-Order Stochastic Dominance of Two Distributions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(05), pages 849-866, December.
  3. Davidson, Russell & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1998. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Cahiers de recherche 9805, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  4. Stole, Lars A, 1995. "Nonlinear Pricing and Oligopoly," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 529-62, Winter.
  5. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  6. Walter Y. Oi, 1971. "A Disneyland Dilemma: Two-Part Tariffs for a Mickey Mouse Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(1), pages 77-96.
  7. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
  8. Sissel Jensen, 2006. "Implementation of competitive nonlinear pricing: tariffs with inclusive consumption," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 10(1), pages 9-29, April.
  9. Pascal Courty & Li Hao, 2000. "Sequential Screening," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 697-717.
  10. Riordan, Michael H & Sappington, David E M, 1987. "Awarding Monopoly Franchises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 375-87, June.
  11. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
  12. Kenneth E. Train, 1991. "Optimal Regulation: The Economic Theory of Natural Monopoly," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200848, December.
  13. Glenn Ellison, 2005. "A Model of Add-On Pricing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 585-637.
  14. Susanna Esteban & Eiichi Miyagawa, 2005. "Optimal Menu of Menus with Self-Control Preferences," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 784828000000000455,
  15. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2008. "Consumer optimism and price discrimination," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(4), December.
  16. Mathias Dewatripont & Lars Peter Hansen & Stephen Turnovsky, 2003. "Advances in economics and econometrics: the eighth world congress," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9557, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  17. Garry F. Barrett & Stephen G. Donald, 2003. "Consistent Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 71-104, January.
  18. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. Sandroni, Alvaro & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Overconfidence, Insurance and Paternalism," Economics Discussion Papers 8914, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  20. Michael Conlin & Ted O'Donoghue & Timothy J. Vogelsang, 2007. "Projection Bias in Catalog Orders," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1217-1249, September.
  21. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2005. "The Welfare Performance Of Sequential Pricing Mechanisms ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(4), pages 1321-1360, November.
  22. Anja Lambrecht & Katja Seim & Bernd Skiera, 2007. "Does Uncertainty Matter? Consumer Behavior Under Three-Part Tariffs," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(5), pages 698-710, 09-10.
  23. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2006. "Contracting with Diversely Naive Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 689-714.
  24. repec:esx:essedp:643 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Baron, David P. & Besanko, David, 1984. "Regulation and information in a continuing relationship," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 267-302.
  26. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
  27. Aaron S. Edlin and Chris Shannon., 1995. "Strict Monotonicity in Comparative Statics," Economics Working Papers 95-238, University of California at Berkeley.
  28. Eugenio J. Miravete, 1995. "Screening Consumers through Alternative Pricing Mechanisms," Discussion Papers 1145, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  29. G. Hanoch & H. Levy, 1969. "The Efficiency Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 335-346.
  30. Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Della Vigna, Stefano, 2003. "Contract Design and Self Control: Theory and Evidence," Research Papers 1801, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  31. Y.K. Tse & Xibin Zhang, 2003. "A Monte Carlo Investigation of Some Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 7/03, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
  32. Léonard,Daniel & Long,Ngo van, 1992. "Optimal Control Theory and Static Optimization in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521337465, November.
  33. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  34. Wilson, Robert, 1997. "Nonlinear Pricing," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195115826, December.
  35. Hadar, Josef & Russell, William R, 1969. "Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 25-34, March.
  36. Esteban, Susanna & Miyagawa, Eiichi & Shum, Matthew, 2003. "Nonlinear Pricing with Self-Control Preferences," Working Papers 10-03-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
  37. Bolger, Fergus & Onkal-Atay, Dilek, 2004. "The effects of feedback on judgmental interval predictions," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 29-39.
  38. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
  39. Alvaro Sandroni & Francesco Squintani, 2007. "Overconfidence, Insurance, and Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1994-2004, December.
  40. Oster Sharon M. & Scott Morton Fiona M., 2005. "Behavioral Biases Meet the Market: The Case of Magazine Subscription Prices," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-32, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Selling to Overconfident Consumers (AER 2009) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1770-1807. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.