Tyler Cowen writes:
Does knowing the price lower your enjoyment of goods and services?
I [Cowen] don’t quite agree with this as stated, as the experience of enjoying a bargain can make it more pleasurable, or at least I have seen this for many people. Some in fact enjoy the bargain only, not the actual good or service. Nonetheless here is the abstract [of a recent article by Kelly Haws, Brent McFerran, and Joseph Redden]:
Prices are typically critical to consumption decisions, but can the presence of price impact enjoyment over the course of an experience? We examine the effect of price on consumers’ satisfaction over the course of consumption. We find that, compared to when no pricing information is available, the presence of prices accelerates satiation (i.e., enjoyment declines faster). . . .
I have no special thoughts on pricing and enjoyment, nor am I criticizing the paper by Haws et al. which I have not had the opportunity to read (see P.S. below).
The thing I did want to talk about was Cowen’s implicit assumption in his header that a treatment has a fixed effect. It’s clear that Cowen doesn’t believe this—the very first sentence of this post recognizes variation—so it’s not that he’s making this conceptual error. Rather, my problem here is that the whole discussion, by default, is taking place on the turf of constant effects.
The idea, I think, is that you first establish the effect and then you look for interactions. But if interactions are the entire story—as seems plausible here—that main-effect-first approach will be a disaster. Just as it was with power pose, priming, etc.
Framing questions in terms of “the effect” can be a hard habit to break.
I was thinking of just paying the $35.95 but, just from the very fact of knowing the price, my satiation increased and my enjoyment declined and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. In future, perhaps Elsevier can learn from its own research and try some hidden pricing: Click on this article and we’ll remove a random amount of money from your bank account! That sort of thing.