Consumer perceptions of price (un)fairness

Lisa E. Bolton, Luk Warlop, Joseph W. Alba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

620 Scopus citations


A series of studies demonstrates that consumers are inclined to believe that the selling price of a good or service is substantially higher than its fair price. Consumers appear sensitive to several reference points - including past prices, competitor prices, and cost of goods sold - but underestimate the effects of inflation, overattribute price differences to profit, and fail to take into account the full range of vendor costs. Potential corrective interventions - such as providing historical price information, explaining price differences, and cueing costs - were only modestly effective. These results are considered in the context of a four-dimensional transaction space that illustrates sources of perceived unfairness for both individual and multiple transactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-491
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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