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When Opposites Detract: Categorical Reasoning and Subtractive Valuations of Product Combinations

Aaron R. Brough and Alexander Chernev
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 2 (August 2012), pp. 399-414
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/663773
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/663773
Page Count: 16
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When Opposites Detract: Categorical Reasoning and Subtractive Valuations of Product Combinations
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Abstract

Can pairing items from different price tiers decrease consumers’ perceptions of monetary value? Prior research suggests that adding an item with positive utility to an offering can only increase the offering’s overall value. In contrast, we show that combining expensive and inexpensive items can lead to subtractive rather than additive judgments, such that consumers are willing to pay less for the combination than for the expensive item alone. We attribute this subtraction effect to the categorical nature of consumers’ processing of numeric information when evaluating combinations of items classified into opposing categories. Five empirical studies lend converging support to the proposition that categorical reasoning can lead to subtractive judgments.

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