The devaluation effect: Activating a need devalues unrelated objects

C. Miguel Brendl*, Arthur B. Markman, Claude Messner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


It is commonly assumed that an object capable of satisfying a need will be perceived as subjectively more valuable as the need for it intensifies. For example, the more active the need to eat, the more valuable food will become. This outcome could be called a valuation effect. In this article, we suggest a second basic influence of needs on evaluations: that activating a focal need (e.g., to eat) makes objects unrelated to that need (e.g., shampoo) less valuable, an outcome we refer to as the devaluation effect. Two existing studies support the existence of a devaluation effect using manipulations of the need to eat and to smoke and measuring attractiveness of consumer products and willingness to purchase raffle tickets. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that consumers are not aware of the devaluation effect and its influence on their preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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