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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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  • Lynsda828 By Lynsda828
    01.31.08  

    I agree that price can be confused with quality - however at the same time, some people who are extremely price conscious might think that something high in price is out of reach and getting the chance to try something that is more than they can afford would automatically make it higher quality than something that they can eat every day. Personally - I don't think that wine price equals quality - I worry about that I like. I think I'd be interested in tasting a $400 bottle of wine, just to say that I did it, but I know that I can find just as much enjoyment out of a $5 bottle enjoyed with friends.

    I do think that price affects the way that I perceive its quality. I think that it depends on the product. Diamonds are something that I correlate as increasing in price and quality. The better the diamond, the higher the price. For the most part, I think that this holds true for me - higher price = better product. As a consumer, I have to keep myself in check and understand what I can afford - so going for the best product for the money (value).

  • obgidget1 By obgidget1
    01.31.08  

    I think people have been coerced into believing that you get what you pay for. In many instances, it is true, but not always. I was at a party during Christmas, and after commenting on how great the red wine was, the hostess told me it was only $2.99 a bottle at the neighborhood grocery store. I was totally shocked. And...pleasantly surprised. Perception can be brutal. You have to be open to the idea that some things are not all about the price.

  • frogqueen75 By frogqueen75
    02.05.08  

    obgidget1, You are right on the money (no pun intended) with your comment. People often compliment me on my clothing & are absolutely shocked when I tell them that a large portion of my wardrobe comes from Walmart, Meijer, and other discount stores. I do shop at some higher-end stores, but generally only if they're having a big sale or from their clearance racks. And guess what? My Walmart sweaters have lasted just as long as my Gap sweaters, with the proper care.

  • cvarano By cvarano
    02.05.08  

    This is very interesting. I do think the price of something, especially if it is unattainably out of our price range, makes it more appealing just because it is something that you can't or shouldn't buy. It's "out of our league" I suppose. I wonder how a study would come out if they had tested a higher priced wine against a lower priced wine but reversed the prices to the subjects.

  • samboakers By samboakers
    02.11.08  

    To me buying pricey or cheap wine is like buying pricey or cheap clothes. They are probably made by the same company with different labels on them, just like clothes. My sister worked in a sewing factory and they made the same robes for different companies and put different labels in them.

  • leemor16 By leemor16
    03.10.08  

    leeann says:

    i buy what taste good to me if its cheap then thats great there are a lot of wines that have a great flavor that dont cost alot

  • Twiggs By Twiggs
    03.13.08  

    At the end of the day it's GRAPES and a label! The cheap stuff can be just as good!

  • mimirose By mimirose
    03.15.08  

    There was an episode on Law & Order about this a few days ago. Someone was filling expensive wine bottles with cheap wine and selling them. People bought the expensive wine basically as status symbols. They didn't know anything about wine but wanted to show they could afford the expensive stuff.

  • bbcoop By bbcoop
    03.18.08  

    Hmmm...hard to know, I'd actually like to believe that I would like the cheaper stuff better b/c I'm a bargain shopper! I'm not really a "brand snob" but I think it is funny that I'd rather have a tea in a starbucks cup than a plain styrofoam one--I think our brains perceive it like we are "treating" ourselves--it really has nothing to do with being seen at the right place for me. I'd even rather have the exact dessert at a restaurant than at home for the same reason-its just more stress releiving for me..even if its a few bucks more for whatever reason.

  • kokonut1966 By kokonut1966
    08.17.09  

    I buy expensive, and I buy cheap...it doesn't matter to me as long as it tastes good and gives me a buzz. I've had some expensive wines before and they were HORRID!!

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