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Monopoly pricing when consumers are antagonized by unexpected price increases: a “cover version” of the Heidhues–Kőszegi–Rabin model


  • Ran Spiegler



This paper reformulates and simplifies a recent model by Heidhues and Kőszegi (The impact of consumer loss aversion on pricing, Mimeo, 2005 ), which in turn is based on a behavioral model due to Kőszegi and Rabin (Q J Econ 121:1133–1166, 2006 ). The model analyzes optimal pricing when consumers are loss averse in the sense that an unexpected price hike lowers their willingness to pay. The main message of the Heidhues–Kőszegi model, namely that this form of consumer loss aversion leads to rigid price responses to cost fluctuations, carries over. I demonstrate the usefulness of this “cover version” of the Heidhues–Kőszegi-Rabin model by obtaining new results: (1) loss aversion lowers expected prices; (2) the firm’s incentive to adopt a rigid pricing strategy is stronger when fluctuations are in demand rather than in costs. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Ran Spiegler, 2012. "Monopoly pricing when consumers are antagonized by unexpected price increases: a “cover version” of the Heidhues–Kőszegi–Rabin model," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 51(3), pages 695-711, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:51:y:2012:i:3:p:695-711 DOI: 10.1007/s00199-011-0619-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Courty, Pascal & Pagliero, Mario, 2010. "Price variation antagonism and firm pricing policies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 235-249, August.
    2. Spiegler, Ran, 2014. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199334261, June.
    3. Osborne, Martin J & Rubinstein, Ariel, 1998. "Games with Procedurally Rational Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 834-847, September.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "A Behavioral Account of the Labor Market: The Role of Fairness Concerns," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 355-384, May.
    5. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    6. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-1268, September.
    7. Gadi Fibich & Arieh Gavious & Oded Lowengart, 2007. "Optimal price promotion in the presence of asymmetric reference-price effects," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(6), pages 569-577.
    8. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    9. Paul Heidhues & Botond Köszegi, 2004. "The Impact of Consumer Loss Aversion on Pricing," CIG Working Papers SP II 2004-17, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
    10. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    11. Ran Spiegler, 2006. "The Market for Quacks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 1113-1131.
    12. Karle, Heiko & Peitz, Martin, 2010. "Pricing and Information Disclosure in Markets with Loss-Averse Consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 7785, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Behavioral Consumers in Industrial Organization: An Overview," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 247-258, November.
    2. Michael D. Grubb, 2015. "Behavioral Consumers in Industrial Organization," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 879, Boston College Department of Economics.
    3. Wenner, Lukas M., 2015. "Expected prices as reference points—Theory and experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 60-79.
    4. Ahrens, Steffen & Pirschel, Inske & Snower, Dennis J., 2017. "A theory of price adjustment under loss aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 78-95.
    5. Antonio Rosato, 2016. "Selling substitute goods to loss-averse consumers: limited availability, bargains, and rip-offs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(3), pages 709-733, August.
    6. Heiko Karle & Martin Peitz, 2014. "Competition under consumer loss aversion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(1), pages 1-31, March.
    7. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:681-705 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. S. Dupraz, 2017. "A Kinked-Demand Theory of Price Rigidity," Working papers 656, Banque de France.
    9. repec:spr:etbull:v:2:y:2014:i:1:d:10.1007_s40505-013-0026-0 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Loss aversion; Monopoly pricing; Cover version; D03; D42;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies


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