Farnam Street helps you make better decisions, innovate, and avoid stupidity.

With over 350,000 monthly readers and more than 87,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub.

Dan Ariely: On the NYT pay wall

Change the anchor. We can’t figure out how much pleasure the NYT gives us so we revert back to what we have paid before $0.

The main problem of this approach is that over the years of free access, the New York Times has trained its readers for years that the right price (or the Anchor) is $0 – and since this is the starting point it is very hard to change it.

So, should the New York Times give up?  The trick with anchoring is that although we are not willing to pay more for the same thing, we are willing to pay more for different things.  What this means is that one approach that the New York Times could take is to present us with a new experience so that we don’t associate it with the previous anchor, and are open to new pricing.

Let me explain. Because we’re not very good at figuring out what we are willing to pay for different products and services, the initial prices that new products are presented with can have a long term effect on how much we are willing to pay for them.  We basically can’t figure out how much pleasure the New York Times gives us in terms of $ — so we go back and pay the same price we have paid before.

This means that getting people to pay for something that was free for a long time will be very challenging, but it also means that if the New York Times were to offer some new service at the same time that they start charging, they might be more likely to pull it off.

Source: Dan’s Blog

Farnam Street covers this and other interesting subjects. Read what you’ve been missing and subscribe via Email, RSS, or Twitter.

Dan Ariely is the author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational.