Sunday, December 25, 2011

Avoiding Xmas Deadweight Loss, Part VI

Okay, last one (for this year at least):
You’ve found that perfect, pricey gift for your significant other. Now, you decide to pick up a little something else. But wait! The second smaller gift can actually take away from the powerful impression of gift number 1. That’s according to an analysis in the Journal of Consumer Research. [Kimberlee Weaver, Stephen M. Garcia and Norbert Schwarz, The Presenter’s Paradox
The researchers call it the “presenter’s paradox.” The person presenting the gifts thinks more is better. But the receiver unconsciously averages the two – so a cheaper addition makes the bigger gift seem, surprisingly, cheaper itself. 
The researchers evaluated seven test situations. In one, subjects were asked to assign a value for a gift iPod. Others were asked to value an iPod plus a free mp3. The participants assigned a significantly higher value on just the iPod. 
And this occurs in other facets of life. Participants in another trial were asked to rate the severity of a littering punishment. And they rated a fine of $750 as a more severe punishment than a fine of the same $750 fine plus two hours of community service. 
So, to avoid the averaging effect, keep it simple with gifts. It’s the thought that counts. The one thought.

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