The Pliability of Perceived Value: How Quantity Framing Affects Prices


This research examines how the framing of quantity description affects perceived economic value and market prices. To assess the economic value of a grocery product, consumers have to first evaluate its quantity. Quantity description entails a number and a unit. Two types of units can be used to describe quantity—standardized units or perceptual units. When quantity is described using a standardized unit (e.g., 12 oz. of chips), it prompts more analytical evaluations of economic value. In contrast, when quantity is described using a perceptual unit (e.g., 12 snack bags of chips), it prompts more experiential evaluations, which usually increase perceived value. An archival study shows that retailers charge higher unit prices for products when perceptual units are used to describe quantity. Six controlled experiments show that even when both units are available, merely increasing the attentional salience of perceptual units can increase perceived economic value. By delineating the distinct effects of perceptual and standardized units, this research offers new insights into the psychology of economic value.