Science of Snobbery Explains the Appeal of High Prices

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Photo: Ugurhan BETIN/iStockphoto

Because cognition is a complex and delicate thing, our snobbery is not as effective as we'd like. In "The Science of Snobbery," Priceonomics blogger Alex Mayyasi sifts through studies suggesting that high prices make oenophiles think their wine tastes better or a classical musician's appearance can make her sound better. Mayyasi likens the effect to how "adding yellow food dye to vanilla pudding leads people to experience a lemony taste" and "cheap fish is routinely passed off as its pricier cousins at seafood and sushi restaurants." 

Rather than conclude that aesthetes are frauds, however, Mayyasi points to theories about the brain adapting strategies for snap judgments. All of which will be great fodder for self-conscious spiraling next time you discover you cannot afford something, then find yourself wanting it even more.