Comma N' cents in pricing: The effects of auditory representation encoding on price magnitude perceptions

Keith S. Coulter, Pilsik Choi, Kent B. Monroe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numbers and prices can be processed and encoded in three different forms: 1) visual [based on their written form in Arabic numerals (e.g., 72)], 2) verbal [based on spoken word-sounds (e.g., "seventy" and "two"), and 3) analog (based on judgments of relative "size" or amount (e.g., more than 70 but less than 80)]. In this paper, we demonstrate that including commas (e.g., $1599 vs. $1599) and cents (e.g., $1599.85 vs. $1599) in a price's Arabic written form (i.e., how it is perceived . visually) can change how the price is encoded and represented verbally in a consumer's memory. In turn, the verbal encoding of a written price can influence assessments of the numerical magnitude of the price. These effects occur because consumers non-consciously perceive that there is a positive relationship between syllabic length and numerical magnitude. Three experiments are presented demonstrating this important effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-407
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory (verbal) representation
  • Behavioral pricing
  • Numerical cognition
  • Price magnitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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