Pricing aesthetics: How cognitive perception affects bidding for artworks

Fangyuan Chai1, Kaiping Peng1, Feng Yu2
1Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University, People’s Republic of China
2School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Chai, F., Peng, K., & Yu, F. (2016). Pricing aesthetics: How cognitive perception affects bidding for artworks. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 44(4), 541-554.

Volume 44 Issue 4 | e5050 | Published: May 2016 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2016.44.4.541

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There are few studies in which the focus is on cognitive determinants of artwork bidding. Using a micro approach, we explored factors that may influence bidders’ offering from a psychological perspective. The 157 participants rated 25 paintings on the price they were willing to offer for works by famous Chinese artists executed in the traditional Chinese style and variants of the same works by a modern Chinese artist working in adaptations of the style of famous Western artists. Results showed that for both the Chinese and Western-style paintings in 3 price anchoring and 3 price nonanchoring conditions, 3 factors affected the bidding for the artworks: positive attraction, artistic quality, and cognitive stimulation. Of these factors positive attraction and artistic quality were the primary influences. In each condition, positive attraction was always the positive predictor of the bidders’ offering, emphasizing the importance of the artwork’s aesthetic value. In contrast, artistic quality deterred participants from bidding. In addition, whether or not there was a reference-point price made a difference in the traditional Chinese group of artworks. Bidders wished to offer a higher price only if the price had been high for the previous example of this artist’s work that had sold.

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