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Touchy-Feely Buyers

October 7, 2010

We’re willing to shell out more money for items we can touch.


You touch it, you buy it. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Handling an item before you buy it tricks your brain into valuing it more highly. This according to Caltech neuroscientist Antonio Rangel. He and his colleagues found that volunteers would be willing to pay the same price for an item whether presented with a written description of it or a high-resolution photograph. But if they put the same item on a tray, people were willing to shell out more.

We found that having the item in front of you really increases by as much as 50% how much you’re willing to pay for it.

He says the brain’s accounting system places a high value on items you can reach out and. touch.

If items are in front of you, that increases the value that your brain assigns to them, and you end up willing to pay more.

I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.