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Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice

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  • Richard Thaler

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

A new model of consumer behavior is developed using a hybrid of cognitive psychology and microeconomics. The development of the model starts with the mental coding of combinations of gains and losses using the prospect theory value function. Then the evaluation of purchases is modeled using the new concept of “transaction utility.” The household budgeting process is also incorporated to complete the characterization of mental accounting. Several implications to marketing, particularly in the area of pricing, are developed.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:4:y:1985:i:3:p:199-214
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mksc.4.3.199
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jack L. Knetsch & J. A. Sinden, 1984. "Willingness to Pay and Compensation Demanded: Experimental Evidence of an Unexpected Disparity in Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 507-521.
    2. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
    3. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
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    Keywords

    mental accounting; consumer choice; pricing;

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