Leveraging the Numerosity Effect to Influence Perceived Expensiveness of Virtual Items
47 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017 Last revised: 16 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 7, 2018
Previous research has documented that people use price numerosity as a cue to evaluate the expensiveness of a product in real life (e.g., a product seems more expensive when its price is presented in Japanese yen which is higher in numerosity than in US dollars which are lower in numerosity). We conducted four experiments to investigate the numerosity effect in virtual worlds, i.e., massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) where players can exchange real money for game currency based on an exchange rate in order to purchase virtual items. We theorized that players may use either price numerosity or exchange rate as a cue to make a judgment of product expensiveness, depending on the salience of the exchange rate. When the exchange rate is not salient (e.g., exchange rate is not mentioned or players have sufficient game currency in their account), players consider a virtual item as more expensive if the price is high (vs. low) in numerosity. However, when the exchange rate is salient (e.g., exchange rate is mentioned and no additional information indicates it is irrelevant), they consider a virtual item as cheaper if the price is high (vs. low) in numerosity. In the latter case, numerosity increases players’ purchase intention of non-social, but not social, virtual items through the mediating effect of perceived expensiveness. Our notable findings contribute to the existing literature on numerosity and provide guidance for the design of virtual currency systems.
Keywords: numerosity effects; game currency; virtual items; virtual worlds; massive multiplayer online games
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