What is something worth?

One of my favorite concepts has always been that we have no intrinsic value for anything and we assign value comparative to what we know.

One famous example is when the Wall Street journal listed these three items for sale

Printed news paper: $59.00

Internet only edition: $129.00

Print and internet: $129.00

As you can see in this example, the option in the middle is obviously of no value because the combo package of print and internet is the same price. In an experiment done at a university, the subjects were asked to pick which one looked most appealing to them. Luckily, they could all read and nobody chose the internet only edition. The results were as followed.

16% print only $59.00

0% internet $129.00

84% print and internet $129.00

Now, since nobody chose the middle choice, you should be able to eliminate it and get the same result right? Wrong. When middle is eliminated, Suddenly the print edition is the most desired choice as it is chosen 68% of the time and the combo package of print and internet drops down to 32%. A flip in consumer decisions.

The option that was useless was useless in the sense nobody wanted it but it wasn’t useless in that it helped people figure out what they wanted. Turns out we don’t actually know our preference that well so we are susceptible to outside influences.




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