When it comes to shopping, it is considered that you are less rational than a monkey.
Humans have a tendency to think more expensive items are better, even in studies when prices are secretly arbitrary. But a new Yale University study finds that monkeys don’t fall for the same trick.
Researchers trained seven monkeys to purchase treats with tokens in a laboratory “marketplace.” The animals learned that a blue treat costs three tokens, while an orange treat costs only one. Then the researchers let them choose a treat for free.
If the monkeys had the same bias as humans, they would have gone for the blue treat. (Think about it: If you had your choice between a free $10 bottle of wine and a free $50 bottle of wine, which would you pick?) But they didn’t: Instead, they chose the treat that they actually preferred in the first place.
So why do humans confuse price with quality? Study author Laurie Santos suspects that a big price tag makes us think otherpeople like a certain item—and we want to conform. Monkeys, on the other hand, aren’t as susceptible to that peer pressure, she says.
Don’t want to throw your money away on costly crap that’s no better than the stuff in the bargain bin? Try a product—and decide how you feel about it—before checking the price tag, Santos suggests.