Journal of Behavioral Decision Making

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Volume 32 Issue 3 (July 2019), Pages 229-372

Outwitting the rational mind: How effortful thinking influences price cognition (pages 280-296)

Abstract Prior research presents mixed findings on how people's degrees of effortful thinking influence their reliance on heuristics and biases. Although the tenets of dual process theory would argue that effortful thinking should attenuate people's reliance on heuristics, a number of contemporary findings suggest otherwise: Effortful thinking may, in fact, enhance biased processing of information in certain instances. This research shows how, in the context of pricing, people's degrees of effortful thinking can amplify their inclination towards biased processing of price information. In five studies (n = 1,339), we find that effortful thinking induces a greater preference for nine‐ending (vs. zero‐ending) prices, and the effect is mainly driven by people's greater propensity for argument‐based decision making. Such predilection to nine‐endings attenuates with lower cognitive effort in processing price information. Moreover, when locus of deliberation shifts from price to quality, consumers' preference for nine‐ending priced options is subdued.

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