Magazine article Psychology Today

Is It Worth It?

Magazine article Psychology Today

Is It Worth It?

Article excerpt

WE COMPETE FOR rewards all the time, especially if we desire them deeply-but what about ones we don't really value? Having to contend for something, it turns out, may actually make us want it more, regardless of its inherent worth.

In a phenomenon known as "auction fever," a state of excitement causes bidders to escalate the amount they are willing to pay. In September, researchers in Germany and Australia published findings in th e Journal of Retailing indicating that a sense of social competition-in concert with the pressure of limited time-led subjects to increase their bids in online auctions.

Experiments at the University of California, San Diego explored this dynamic in more prosaic contexts. In one, women who competed to be picked as the best datB for a male stranger, based on their descriptions of an ideal first outing, said they would be more likely to accept his invitation, on average, than did those not asked to compete for the date. …

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