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Scarcity Principle

 

Explanations > Theories > Scarcity Principle

Description | ResearchExample | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

In our need to control our world, being able to choose is an important freedom. If something becomes scarce, we anticipate possible regret that we did not acquire it, and so we desire it more. This desire is increased further if we think that someone else might get it and hence gain social position that we might have had.

Research

Stephen Worchel and colleagues offered subjects cookies in a jar. One jar had ten cookies in and the other jar had two. Subjects preferred the cookies from the jar with two in, even though they were the same cookies.

Example

The scarcity principle is used in sales, with ‘sale ends today’ (scarcity of time), ‘whilst stock last’ (scarcity of product) and so on.

So what?

Using it

Intimate that what you want the other person to choose is only going to available for a limited time and that there may not be many left in any case. Hint of other people waiting in the wings to for the chance to get it.

In romance and in business, play hard to get. Make it seem like your time is precious.

Defending

When something is scarce, thing about whether you really want it. If you keep buying things you do not want, you money will be scarce instead, which is probably worse

See also

Social Comparison Theory, Reactance Theory

References

Worchel

Brehm (1966), Worchel, Lee and Adewole (1975), Cialdini (1993)

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