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Consumer loss aversion and scale-dependent psychological switching costs

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  • Karle, Heiko
  • Schumacher, Heiner
  • Vølund, Rune

Abstract

We consider a model of product differentiation where consumers are uncertain about the qualities and prices of firms' products. They can inspect all products at zero cost. A share of consumers is expectation-based loss averse. For these consumers, buying products of varying quality and price creates disutility from gain-loss sensations. Even at modest degrees of loss aversion they may refrain from inspecting all products and choose an individual default that is strictly dominated in terms of surplus. Firms' strategic behavior exacerbates the scope for this effect. The model generates “scale-dependent psychological switching costs” that increase in the value of the transaction. They imply that making switching easier or costless for consumers would not motivate more switching.

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  • Karle, Heiko & Schumacher, Heiner & Vølund, Rune, 2023. "Consumer loss aversion and scale-dependent psychological switching costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 214-237.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:138:y:2023:i:c:p:214-237
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2023.01.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Switching costs; Competition; Loss aversion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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