If week-long Black Friday deals tells us anything, we know that people are suckers for what seems like a good deal. Then again, there are the shoppers who prefer brand-name items and will shell out the big bucks no matter the price tag. But spending more money doesn't always mean you are getting a better quality item. Seriously people, bargain shopping is so simple, even a monkey can do it.
Psychological research has found that it's easy to trick people into believing that the more you pay for something the better quality it is. According to a study, people prefer expensive products and enjoy them more. When participants drank the same wine, but were told different prices, the people who drank what they thought was the expensive bottle enjoyed it more.
But you can't fool a monkey.
Curious to see the connection between prices and taste, psychologists from Yale University found that "New World" capuchin monkeys do not assume that a higher price tag means they are getting a higher quality product.
Led by Rhia Catapano, Yale colleagues conducted four experiments to test if the monkeys prefer more expensive products after teaching them how to differentiate prices. The psychologists used brands like Kix, Crunch Berries and Jell-O as treats that were offered at different prices.
The capuchins understood that they could get more treats for a less price for certain brands. Published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the researchers found that not only did the capuchins understand economic value, but they also were found to be better shoppers than humans. Proving to be bargain shoppers, when given the tokens, they purchased cheaper treats rather than the more expensive brands.
"We know that capuchin monkeys share a number of our own economic biases. Our previous work has shown that monkeys are loss-averse, irrational when it comes to dealing with risk, and even prone to rationalizing their own decisions, just like humans," says Yale psychologist and co-study author Laurie Santos. "But this is one of the first domains we've tested in which monkeys show more rational behavior than humans do."
However, when the monkeys were given the option to have any brand treat for no cost, they still went with their first bargain choices or just chose treats at random. This suggests that when it comes to humans and shopping preferences, society has led us to believe that the better the product, the higher the price.
"For humans, higher price tags often signal that other people like a particular good." Santos says. "Our richer social experiences with markets might be the very thing that leads us— and not monkeys— astray in this case."
Next time you feel like you might have buyer's remorse over an expensive item you don't really need, ask yourself, what would a monkey do?
[Photo Credit: Eric Kilby/Flickr]