A triadic model of social motivations in pay-what-you-want decisions

Saerom Lee, Hans Baumgartner, Rik Pieters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The authors propose a framework for understanding the interplay of the motivations driving consum-ers’ price decisions in pay-what-you-want (PWYW) contexts. A series of five studies demonstrate that consumers generally pay less than the suggested regular price because of economic self-interest, but they pay more than the minimum due to specific social motivations. In particular, social image signaling to other consumers and fairness toward the seller constrain narrow self-interest maximization. Furthermore, this research reveals how multiple motivations interact to influence consumers’ price decisions. Price decisions are impacted by social image signaling and the specific cues that the consumer receives from other consumers—when fairness concerns are not salient. Yet salient fairness universally raises the price paid and cannot readily be overridden by other social motivations. Taken together, this research provides new theoretical and managerial insights about price decisions in PWYW situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-119
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Association for Consumer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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