People often neglect opportunity costs: They do not fully take into account forgone alternatives outside of a particular choice set. Several scholars have suggested that poor people should be more likely to spontaneously consider opportunity costs, because budget constraints should lead to an increased focus on trade-offs. We did not find support for this hypothesis in five high-powered experiments (total N = 2325). The experiments used different products (both material and experiential) with both high and low prices (from $8.50 to $249.99) and different methods of reminding participants of opportunity costs. High-income and low-income participants showed an equally strong decrease in willingness to buy when reminded of opportunity costs, implying that both the rich and the poor neglect opportunity costs.
- Judgment and decision making
- Opportunity costs