Money Muddles Thinking: the Effects of Price Consideration on Preference Consistency

Leonard Lee , Columbia Business School, USA
Marco Bertini, London Business School, UK
Dan Ariely, Duke University, USA
In this research, we study the possible role of price in impeding consistent (i.e., transitive) consumer choice. We hypothesize that prices make buying decisions less transitive because of the inherent imprecision of mapping monetary assessments onto predicted utility. The results of five experiments provide convergent support for this prediction. We show that this effect is robust across different preference elicitation methods and persists even when participants are merely asked to consider how much a product might cost. Furthermore, the effect is attenuated for price conscious consumers or when we label the attribute "price" as "quality rating" instead.
[ to cite ]:
Leonard Lee , Marco Bertini, and Dan Ariely (2009) ,"Money Muddles Thinking: the Effects of Price Consideration on Preference Consistency", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 86-89.