Revisiting Tversky's Trail—How Money Makes a Subtle Difference in Similarity Effect Experiments


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Holger Müller, Junior Professorship of Consumer Behavior, Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, PO Box 4120, D-39016 Magdeburg, Germany (


Recent findings in research on context effects indicate that, as opposed to choices under hypothetical settings, compromise effects are significantly attenuated in binding settings that include real payments for products. The present investigation examines to what extent this finding applies to yet another context effect, namely the similarity effect (SE). The SE stipulates that, compared with initial shares of two options A and B in a binary choice set, the introduction of an option C that is dissimilar to B but similar to A will hurt the latter more than the nonadjacent option B. The conducted online survey examines the SE in unforced choices of experienced consumers between real brands across three consumer good categories. The results confirm that the SE is evidently reduced under real payment conditions, hence confirming the hypothesis that the applied choice setting moderates the efficacy of the composition of choice sets.