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Press Release from the Journal of Marketing: Want to increase auction prices? Raise the temperature!

Matt Weingarden

Key Takeaway: A new study shows that temperature affects consumers’ willingness to pay and that these effects are contingent on whether the company is using an auction or a negotiation sales approach.

Chicago, June 17, 2019 — Researchers from Florida International University and Virginia Tech University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing, which finds that in auctions, higher temperatures increase consumers’ willingness to pay. However, in negotiations, higher temperatures lower willingness to pay.

The study, forthcoming in the July issue of the Journal of Marketing titled “The Role of Ambient Temperature in Influencing Willingness-to-Pay in Auctions and Negotiations,” is authored by Jayati Sinha and Rajesh Bagchi.

Temperature’s effects on human physiology have been well-studied, but its effects on decision-making are still relatively unknown. A new study in the Journal of Marketing studies the effect of ambient temperature on buyers’ willingness to pay in auctions and negotiations. The research team finds that in auctions, higher temperatures increase consumers’ willingness to pay. However, in negotiations, a different pattern of effects emerges: Higher temperatures lower willingness to pay. This occurs because hotter temperatures induce aggression, which elicits a different pattern of effects in auctions than it does in negotiations. Sinha explains, “In auctions, an aggressive bidder attempts to ‘win’ the auction by outbidding other competitors, and, therefore, bids higher. In contrast, in negotiations, an aggressive negotiator attempts to ‘get the best deal possible’ from the seller, and therefore, offers lower bids.”

This research has important implications for marketers. First, the use of higher ambient temperatures in auctions will induce higher bids, increasing seller profits. Higher temperatures have a detrimental effect on negotiators—they lower willingness to pay for buyers and could lead to more protracted negotiations and to lower agreement likelihoods. Second, while auctioneers and negotiators can alter ambient temperatures to influence willingness to pay, temperatures also vary naturally. For auctioneers, perhaps conducting auctions during warmer summer (vs. moderate) months may be more beneficial. In contrast, those offering negotiable online prices should offer more products for sale during the seasons when temperature is moderate. Likewise, consumers could also dress appropriately to ward off the effects of temperatures.

At the same time, because discomfort and hostile aggression underlie the effects there may be other ways to induce discomfort to get the same effects in auctions—e.g., via seating, noise, crowding. All of these approaches can incite aggression, which could potentially have similar effects. Finally, while the study is about price negotiations, concession making is necessary in non-price negotiations too, such as when distributing tasks/work-place responsibilities. With higher temperatures, people may be less likely to concede and be more aggressive, which may lead to more disagreements overall. Moderate temperatures, on the other hand, may lead to more integrative decision-making.

Bagchi notes “These effects may be even more pronounced in developing economies, such as India and China, and parts of Africa. In these marketplaces, consumers do not always have access to heating and cooling and majority of the exchanges occur via negotiations and auctions. It may also be interesting to assess if our effects might emerge in outdoor settings—such as when consumers negotiate prices of cars or the purchase price of a rug on the streets of Turkey and Egypt, or when buying vegetables from a street vendor in Nigeria.”

Full article and author contact information available at:

About the Journal of Marketing

The Journal of Marketing develops and disseminates knowledge about real-world marketing questions useful to scholars, educators, managers, policy makers, consumers, and other societal stakeholders around the world. Published by the American Marketing Association since its founding in 1936, JM has played a significant role in shaping the content and boundaries of the marketing discipline. Christine Moorman (T. Austin Finch, Sr. Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University) serves as the current Editor in Chief.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what’s coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.

Matt Weingarden, Vice President, Communities & Journals, leads the diverse team that supports the AMA’s network of community leaders from its three broad communities and four scholarly journals.