The researchers discovered that people given two identical red wines to drink said they got much more pleasure from the one they were told had cost more. Brain scans confirmed that their pleasure centres were activated far more by the higher-priced wine.
The findings could help to explain why rich diners are often willing to pay thousands of pounds for a bottle of fine wine. It seems much of the real pleasure is generated by the high price paid rather than by the quality of the vintage.
Evidence that factors unconnected with the intrinsic qualities of a product can be manipulated to make it more attractive have huge implications for all retailers, not just restaurateurs.
“These results shed light on the neural effects of marketing,” said Antonio Rangel, associate professor of economics at the California Institute of Technology, who led the research.
The Ashenfelter vs Parker bout