The Daily Parker

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The price of free

Would you take more free stuff, or more stuff you pay for? Probably the latter, according to Duke University professor Dan Ariely:

DAN ARIELY: ... [T]here's some interesting exceptions [to cheaper prices being better]. And the most interesting one is the price of free. Imagine that one of your co-workers comes to the office with home-baked cookies, and she's offering you the cookies for a very cheap price. Let's say 5 cents per cookie. And she has 100 cookies on the tray, and there are 20 people in the office. How many cookies will you take?

KAI RYSSDAL: I'd probably take like five. I'd give her a quarter, and take five cookies.

ARIELY: OK, but what would happen if it was free?

RYSSDAL: Well, now see, I'm torn here, because I would either take a lot and be a real piggy, or I would take maybe one or two because I wouldn't want to be a glutton.

The entire conversation was on Marketplace tonight.

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