What is the asymmetrical effect

Decoy effect

The decoy effect, Bait effect, also Illusion effect or. asymmetrical dominance effect called, that effect is in the Sales psychology, which describes the phenomenon of a stronger preference of a consumer over a product, taking into account two specific products, which is caused by the offer of a third asymmetrically dominating product. The Decoy Effect thus designates a cognitive biasused in product pricing, finance, and politics to influence people's decision-making or to generate greater profit.

The decoy effect describes the phenomenon that consumers tend to develop a change in preferences between two options, even if they are too a third option is presented, which is arranged asymmetrically to the other two. If there are only two options, people tend to make decisions purely according to their personal preferences, but if you give them one another strategic option, so the Decoy option offers, they tend to opt for the better or more expensive of the two original options.

In one experiment they tried to get people to buy a large box of popcorn instead of a small or medium one. A first group was offered a small pack of popcorn for $ 3 and a large one for $ 7. As a result, most consumers chose to purchase the small pack based on their personal needs. Another group was offered three options: a small pack for $ 3, a medium (the bait) for $ 6.5 and a large pack for $ 7. This time around, most people chose the big pack because they saw more popcorn for only half a dollar more as a special chance of getting more for their money. The middle pack was dominated asymmetrically by the large one, so that the decoy effect encouraged people to opt for the expensive variant.

In everyday life: If you as a buyer are interested in two products, i.e. product A and product B, where A is more expensive and B does significantly more, for which the seller naturally wants to sell the more expensive product, then he looks for another product C that has a better performance than B, but above all costs a lot more than A. As a buyer, you think that you are getting a bargain with A.

The decoy effect is therefore a phenomenon in which consumers tend to have a specific change in preferences between two options when they are also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated. When there are only two options, consumers tend to make decisions based on their personal preferences, but when consumers are offered another strategic bait option they are more likely to choose the more expensive of the two original options. This particular influence on the purchase decision process is in the Marketing research examined. A consumer who selects products based on certain characteristics does not consider each product individually, but rather compares several products with regard to the properties that are important to them. If the consumer cannot decide between two products, a third product serves as a kind of yardstick for evaluating the original one. If one of the two products is superior to the bait product on offer in most of the characteristics, then the buyer will tend towards that product.


Huber, J., Payne, J.W., & Puto, C. (1982). Adding asymmetrically dominated alternatives: violations of regularity and the similarity hypothesis. Journal of Consumer Research, 9, 90-98.
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decoy-Effekt (09-11-12)

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