Mid Brain muses:
We’ve blogged before about how cosmetic companies trick us into buying pricier products. And I just found a new study that could explain why we fall for some of the gimmicks that advertisers use.
For a new sale, size matters
According to an article published in Sciencedaily, we have a psychological mechanism that makes it easy for us to misjudge the monetary value of something. This research suggests that it’s easy to make us believe 100 cents is more than $1! That’s because we may think the size of the number is more important than the monetary value. According to John Opfer, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, “In some cases, money may just serve as a score – the higher number wins, regardless of the actual value.” In theory, that means Lancome could have a $1 off sale and you wouldn’t bat an eye. But if they said” Price reduced by 100 cents” you’d be all over it!
Of course it’s more complicated than that. But you’ll have to pick up the January 2009 issue of the journal Psychological Science to find out the whole story. You’ll find out how they used a game called the prisoner’s dilemma to get two players to decide whether they were going to cooperate with each other or cheat the other person in exchange for a monetary reward. When the researchers changed the value of the reward AND the way the value was expressed, they found out that just the size of the number could be more imporant than it’s real value.
Opfer says that they found “People were keeping track of the numbers, and not necessarily the values that were at stake… It is a confusability about numbers.” Perhaps even more interesting was the realization that people being easily impressed by large numbers has many real-world implications. For instance, while the economic difference between $3 and $5 is identical to the economic difference between $103 and $105 ($2 in both cases), the difference between 3 and 5 feels more important to us than the difference between 103 and 105. As Opfer puts it: “For better or worse, reframing our choices in terms of smaller numbers allow us to better see the relative risks and benefits of our decisions.”
The Beauty Brains bottom line
What do YOU think? Do you ever feel like you’re being taken advantage of by new sales? Or do you always get the upper hand in a deal? Just how good of a shopper are you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and concerns with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.