Do dates tend to order the most expensive entrée?
No. William Poundstone covers a study that showed prices didn’t affect choices.
The menu is from an experiment by behavioral economists Ori Heffetz and Moses Shayo, of Cornell and Hebrew University, Jerusalem. They got a fancy Tel Aviv restaurant to play along as they manipulated the menu prices, specifically the little prices in parentheses telling how much the entrees would have cost a la carte. They wanted to test whether more people would pick an item just because it was more expensive. (Did you choose the shrimp gnocchi?) Those who pick up many checks on dates might swear it works that way, but Heffetz and Shayo showed it didn’t. The a la carte reference prices did not affect diners’ choices.
“Maybe, sometimes, old-fashioned economics is just about right,” Shayo told The New York Times‘ John Tierney. “Maybe when it comes to food, people do have reasonably stable preferences. Some people like shrimp and some don’t, even if it’s worth a lot of money.”
William Poundstone is the author of Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It).
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