Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Host (Irrational Half-Wit) in the Machine

The value of familiarity.

A study out of Princton shows that people perceive the value of paper bank note to be higher than that of a Susan B Anthony $1 coin. The experiement, conducted again with 2 $1 paper notes and a $2 bill bare the same results.

From The Economist: Look and Feel

After the volunteers had made their estimates, they were asked to indicate on a scale of one to seven how familiar they were with either the banknote or the coin. Dr Alter and Dr Oppenheimer were not surprised to find that all participants were less familiar with the coin than with the banknote. Nor were they that surprised to find a difference in how the participants valued coin and note (the expectation that there would be a difference was, after all, the point of doing the experiment). They were, however, flabbergasted by the size of the difference. People offered the banknote believed, on average, that they could use it to buy 83 paperclips, 72 napkins or 46 sweets. Those offered the coin thought 39 paperclips, 51 napkins or 27 sweets. In other words, the note was believed to be almost twice as valuable as the coin.

Interesting observation in the conclusion:

Whether this observation has wider significance is unclear, but it may. Familiarity takes time to build up. It may have been unfamiliarity with the currency itself, rather than with its face value, which caused price gouging (or, at least, allegations of price gouging) when the euro was introduced. With that in mind, it might be wise for America's Federal Reserve to watch retail prices carefully when it introduces a new series of banknotes in August. With money, it seems, it is not familiarity, but unfamiliarity that breeds contempt.

On a similar note.

No comments: