What makes people buy an expensive bottle of wine rather than a cheap one?
One may get an answer in the new study led by Antonio Rangel and colleagues at California Institute of Technology. The researchers found out that people have stereotypes and consider higher price as a marker of higher quality.
To prove the assumption 20 people were asked to sample wine while undergoing functional MRIs of their brain activity. The researchers told the subjects that they were given five different Cabernet Sauvignons sold at different prices.
In fact, they were given only three wines, two being offered twice, marked with different prices.
A $90 wine was marked with its real price and also marked $10, and another with its real price of $5 and also marked $45.
The results were shocking. The subjects showed more pleasure at the higher price than the lower one, even in case of the same wine.
It means that changes in the price of the wine changed the actual pleasure.
The researcher made up a conclusion that the brain might compute experienced pleasantness in a much more complex way by integrating the actual sensory properties of the substance with the expectations about it.
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