Some research suggests that our bias toward higher-priced goods may have something to do with the way our brains link price with pleasure — and thus leads people to make assumptions about expensiveness signaling quality. If it’s pricey it must be premium.
A column in the NY Times, Feb. 9, 2008 at C6, reports a study of volunteers who tasted and evaluated five wine samples. The same wines were described sometimes as moderate cost and sometimes as expensive. “[B]rain scans taken as the volunteers sipped and rated the wines showed that the higher-priced wines generated more activity in the medial orbitalfrontal cortex, an area of the brain that responses to certain pleasurable experiences.” The price tag bias may show up with law firms. Big bills may trigger assumptions of high quality. But we still wine about costs.