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Old 01-15-2008, 08:08 PM   #1
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Higher wine prices boost drinking pleasure By Clare Baldwin
Tue Jan 15, 10:39 AM ET

The more wine costs, the more people enjoy it, regardless of how it tastes, a study by California researchers has found.

Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology found that because people expect wines that cost more to be of higher quality, they trick themselves into believing the wines provide a more pleasurable experience than less expensive ones.

Their study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that expectations of quality trigger activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that registers pleasure. This happens even though the part of our brain that interprets taste is not affected.

While many studies have looked at how marketing affects behavior, this is the first to show that it has a direct effect on the brain.

The researchers said that when 20 adult test subjects sampled the same wine at different prices, they reported experiencing pleasure at significantly greater levels when told the wine cost more. At the same time, the part of the brain responsible for pleasure showed significant activity.

"We have known for a long time that people's perceptions are affected by marketing, but now we know that the brain itself is modulated by price," said Baba Shiv, an associate professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and one of the authors of the study.

"Marketers are now going to think twice about reducing the price," Shiv said.

According to the study, if an experience is pleasurable, the brain will use it to help guide future choices. That conclusion has important implications for marketing that aims to influence perceptions of quality such as expert ratings, peer reviews, information about country of origin, store and brand names and repeated exposure to advertisements.

 
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:37 PM   #2
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Actually this is true for wine snobs. My Uncle-in-law is one of them. I once filled a fancy expensive wine bottle with 1$ French table wine from Aldi (this was in Germany). He just raved about it (while SWMBO chuckled to ourselves).

Personally, if I found a good tasting bottle of wine at a great price, that would make me enjoy it more.

 
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:45 PM   #3
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Not suprising in the least.
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:20 PM   #4
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Its funny how true the "wine snob" by price comes out in some people. I have an aunt and uncle who turn their noses up at any bottle of wine under $40, yet when they blindly try an $8 bottle of Smoking Loon Merlot without knowing it they rave about how good it is. Its okay at best in my book.

I dont think I would ever spend more than 15 dollars on a bottle of wine. Its just really not my bag.

For being a moderate wine drinker I have narrowed my selection to labels like Estancia, Sterling and Bogle and I think they are excellent wines, alot of times on sale, and even at regular price the average bottle goes for $10-13.

 
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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That doesn't surprise me one bit, and it applies to much more than just wine. I see that effect with just about anything I can think of.


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Old 01-15-2008, 09:39 PM   #6
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Well, this is not restricted to wine. In general, the more people pay for something whether it is money or some other cost (like time, pain, ect...) the more they will say they are rewarded by it (be it taste or whatever).

This is a phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance and there is a lot of research on the subject. The best research is I have seen discusses differences in the way current college students view their membership in fraternities versus older generations. As laws and colleges have reduced the amount and types of hazing involved in joining a frat, frat members have valued their membership less and less. Ultimately, the more someone has to go through, the higher they value the end result in part because their brain has to convince them that the hardship was worth it.

Personally I think the research on wine prices is lacking as nothing I have seen on it addresses this possible reason for the differences noted in the study.
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Old 01-15-2008, 09:47 PM   #7
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Looking back at the original post, it seems the point of the study was that the test subjects didn't just trick themselves into thinking it was better, they actually did enjoy it more (as demonstrated by the activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex). That still applies to everything else.


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Old 01-15-2008, 10:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexLaw
Looking back at the original post, it seems the point of the study was that the test subjects didn't just trick themselves into thinking it was better, they actually did enjoy it more (as demonstrated by the activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex). That still applies to everything else.


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The "tricking" is not done on a conscious level so the cortex activity does not rule out cognitive dissonance.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexLaw
That doesn't surprise me one bit, and it applies to much more than just wine. I see that effect with just about anything I can think of.
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Old 01-15-2008, 10:30 PM   #10
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Did the same thing with a two-buck chuck's chardonnay and a local WinO. Really got toasted when I told him what it actually was.
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