Results from 4 experiments suggest that currencies such as loyalty-program points are overvalued. Different allocations of the same quantity of points across the same number of purchases (e.g., 100 points for each first, 200 for each second, 300 for each third purchase vs. 200 for each first, second, and third purchase) yielded irrelevant trends and should have led participants to ignore loyalty points as a basis for choice. However, choices were influenced by points even when consumers were provided with other truly discriminating information (e.g., price) and the irrelevance of the loyalty points was readily discernable. This implies that irrelevant information can influence choice when other, easily justifiable bases for decisions are available and, therefore, that irrelevant information can function as more than a tie-breaker. Other implications for research on irrelevant attributes, medium effects, intertemporal choice, and loyalty programs are discussed.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Osselaer, S., & Alba, J. (2004). Irrelevant Information and Mediated Intertemporal Choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 257–270. Retrieved from