In this study, Frederick, Lee, and Baskin re-examine one of the most well-documented phenomena in the consumer behavior literature: the attraction effect (also referred to as the decoy effect and the asymmetric dominance effect). Prior to this study, the evidence seemed to overwhelmingly support the contention that the introduction of an inferior option to a choice set increases the choice share of the option that it most closely resembles—a particularly valuable finding given the ease with which such a straight-forward manipulation can be put into practice. With a methodological tweak, the authors, however, find strong evidence that the attraction effect only seems to hold under controlled circumstances where simple numeric indices are utilized to distinguish between choices. Under more realistic circumstances, the authors find that it is actually just as likely for the inclusion of an inferior option to decrease the choice share of the option that it most closely resembles as it is to increase it.
Frederick, Shane, Leonard Lee, and Ernest Baskin, “The Limits of Attraction,” Journal of Marketing Research 51.4 (2014): 487-507. Accessed via JSTOR.