IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Relative Thinking Exist In Real-World Situations? A Field Experiment With Bagels And Cream Cheese


  • Ofer Azar

    () (Department of Business Administration, Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management, Ben- Gurion University of the Negev)


Many experiments show that consumers consider relative price differences even when only absolute price differences are relevant from an economic perspective, a phenomenon that was denoted "relative thinking." These experiments, however, were conducted using hypothetical questions. To test whether the relative thinking bias also exists in real-world situations, a field experiment where subjects could purchase either a bagel or a bagel with cream cheese was conducted. The monetary addition for the cream cheese was kept constant ($0.20) in both treatments, but the bagel's price varied ($0.05 in one treatment and $0.30 in the other). Relative thinking then implies that more people should add the cream cheese when the bagel's price is higher, because the relative price increase for the cream cheese is then smaller. However, the results did not document any relative thinking – more people (in percentage of those who purchase) added the cream cheese when the bagel's price was lower (the difference between the treatments, however, was not statistically significant). A replication of the experiment as a hypothetical-scenario experiment did document relative thinking, suggesting that introduction of financial incentives might alleviate relative thinking.

Suggested Citation

  • Ofer Azar, 2009. "Does Relative Thinking Exist In Real-World Situations? A Field Experiment With Bagels And Cream Cheese," Working Papers 0907, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bgu:wpaper:0907

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1989. "Politically Contestable Rents And Transfers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 17-39, March.
    2. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
    3. Dan Kovenock & Michael R. Baye & Casper G. de Vries, 1996. "The all-pay auction with complete information (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(2), pages 291-305.
    4. Amann, Erwin & Leininger, Wolfgang, 1996. "Asymmetric All-Pay Auctions with Incomplete Information: The Two-Player Case," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 1-18, May.
    5. Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso, 2004. "First and Second Prizes in Imperfectly Discriminating Contests," CEPR Discussion Papers 4484, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Andersson, Ola & Ingebretsen Carlson, Jim & Wengström, Erik, 2016. "Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice," Working Paper Series 1145, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Dertwinkel-Kalt, Markus & Köhler, Katrin, 2016. "Exchange asymmetries for bads? Experimental evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 231-241.
    3. Azar, Ofer H., 2009. "Do consumers make too much effort to save on cheap items and too little to save on expensive items? experimental results and implications for business strategy," MPRA Paper 20962, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Azar, Ofer H., 2008. "The effect of relative thinking on firm strategy and market outcomes: A location differentiation model with endogenous transportation costs," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 684-697, November.

    More about this item


    Relative thinking; Experimental economics; Field experiment; Financial incentives; Behavioral economics; Product differentiation.;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • L00 - Industrial Organization - - General - - - General
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bgu:wpaper:0907. 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: (Aamer Abu-Qarn). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.