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Pleasure At A High Price

Pleasure At A High Price
Do you think your taste buds could distinguish between a $10 bottle of wine and a $100 bottle of wine? Which do you think you would enjoy most? California researchers are probably willing to bet you would go for the higher priced wine no matter what.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that a person’s expectations of quality automatically triggers activity in the part of the brain that registers pleasure. When a test subject was told that one wine cost more than the other they tricked themselves into believing the more expensive wine gave them greater pleasure.


During the study, twenty adult subjects were given samples of the same wine at different prices. Not only did the subjects report experiencing pleasure at much greater levels when they were under the impression that the wines cost more, but the activity in the part of the brain that registers pleasure was significantly more active.

This, of course is not the first study to look at how marketing affects a consumer’s behavior, but it is the first to show a direct effect on the brain. These types of findings can drastically change the way companies market products in the future. Baba Shiv, an associate professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and one of the authors of the study believes marketers may now think twice about reducing the price.

What do you think of this study connecting pleasure with price?

Do you think the price of a product affects the way you perceive its quality?

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  • matngoc By matngoc
    01.28.08  

    That's great!!!

  • Bruski203 By Bruski203
    01.28.08  

    I've always wanted to have a wine party where, each friend brings over a bottle of wine kept in a brown paper bag. You have each person sample the "mystery" wines and then rate them on individual cards. The fun comes when you unveil the bags to see which wines, the higher or the lower priced, were chosen as favorites!

  • chosen4worship By chosen4worship
    01.29.08  

    I think that's a great idea, Bruski! I know a lot of people who spend way too much money on "the good stuff" when they can't afford it - either wanting to impress or thinking that it must taste better. Most of these people don't know much about wine, just follow the lure of the advertising.

    As for me, I lean toward the "cheaper stuff" which is often quite nice to drink. I will buy higher priced wines that I know for sure are of a good quality and that others have tasted and enjoyed. Recommendations from family and friends is a good thing!

  • katydid444 By katydid444
    01.29.08  

    If you think that's bad, check out http://www.blingh2o.com/store. If people didn't connect pleasure with price or feel that the price equates to quality, there's no way we'd pay $40 for a bottle of water. Bling water is the perfect example of this! I can't believe people actually buy this stuff! If I had an extra $40 lying around I sure wouldn't spend it on water!!

  • bugsmama By bugsmama
    01.29.08  

    Guess you can figure they're banking on this information!!

  • kirstensapphire By kirstensapphire
    01.30.08  

    I think it's not surprizing that people derived more pleasure when they thought they were drinking expensive wine! It just shows how perceptions can impact your real judgement.

  • devilot By devilot
    01.30.08  

    Well, I think part of the issue is that few people are really steeped and vested in the wine industry and for most of us, we don't know all that much and it's tempting to just cop out and hope that a pricier wine is better.

  • devilot By devilot
    01.30.08  

    (Note: I don't usually drink wine, just a sip or two if I'm home visiting the parents who do drink wine.)

  • kycatymoas By kycatymoas
    01.30.08  

    I worked for a Wine import Company that also owned its own South African Winery...the average wine is about $33 bottle, an avg. middle of the road price.

    it tasted like dirt.

    I went to LA, where they sold wine in EVERY 7-11. I have tried expensive wines & cheap, my favorites are Red Truck, Thousand Oaks, lower end Mondavi's, and Turning Leaf. I like them because they taste good to me.

    I believe wine as are many things in life, a status symbol...like caviar, I have a hard time stomaching mild fish, let alone fish eggs...I had them on my sushi & barfed!

    I drink what I like, wear what I like, and think what I like...

  • xo11xo By xo11xo
    01.30.08  

    I definately agree that high price can be mistaken for high quality. But that can also be idustry specific. In terms of wine-I do go for the brand and price that fits just beyond what I planned on spending yet is not too overly priced. When i want a nice wine I go for it--- it is still cheaper to buy then go out to dinner and have the same bottle there. Plus I'm Italian --- wine is it for me in terms of beverage of choice.

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