First, let’s get to know each other a bit, do you like sushi?

If you don’t, carry on, you might still think this is interesting.

And if you do, then I bet you are a bit like me and think sushi is so damn expensive. It’s also not the first option that pop-up in your mind when you are in the starving state of hunger. Is it?

It’s an expensive yet delightful dining experience. You indulge.

But, why?

The question that just popped into my head, is whether you indulge because sushi is really that delicious, or because it’s expensive.

According to a study done by researchers at Standford University, we indulge and enjoy more food or drinks when it’s at the expensive end. We might not really enjoy it that much while paying the bill though.

“Researchers at Stanford University and Caltech demonstrated that people’s brains experience more pleasure when they think they are drinking a $45 wine instead of a $5 bottle, even when in reality it’s the same cheap stuff!

The important aspect of these findings is that people aren’t fibbing on a survey; that is, they aren’t reporting that a wine tastes better because they know it’s more expensive and they don’t want to look dumb. Rather, they are actually experiencing a tastier wine.” — Dooley, Roger. Brainfluence 


You know what? 

Even though we enjoy sushi while eating it, we don’t enjoy the paying process when the bill comes. Our brain physically feels the pain of payment.

To learn more about feeling pain while paying, read: Are credit cards a blessing or a curse? | Tales of an Excessive Spender


There are two ways in which we are serviced sushi.

One of them is the rotating sushi items concept.

While the rotating sushi items may seem like a fun experience, we actually feel the pain every time we choose one sushi plate. Our thinking process is something similar to, does this cucumber wrapped in sticky rice really worth five bucks? Exhausting, right?

Just imagine feeling that pain with every piece… and so you decide you have had enough. Perhaps that’s good from a dieting and a calorie-count perspective, not so much from a payment pain standpoint or for that matter the owner of the restaurant. 

As Roger Dooley, mentioned in his book Brainfluence, 

“In the last chapter, we met Carnegie Mellon University economics and psychology professor George Loewenstein. Another insight from his work is that selling products in a way that the consumer sees the price increase with every bit of consumption causes the most pain. This isn’t physical pain, of course, but rather activation of the same brain areas associated with physical pain.” — Dooley, Roger. Brainfluence

The second option is the all-inclusive dining

I just know one thing, every single time I learn about an all-inclusive sushi dining offer, I am all in. I don’t have to feel the pain every time I have a bite… and I get to indulge while eating. I don’t actually consciously think that, but I get super excited about it. 

That works out pretty well. You know why? 

Bundling minimizes the pain of paying. 

“Auto luxury bundles minimize negative activation because their price tag covers multiple items. The consumer can’t relate a specific price to each component in the bundle (leather seats, sunroof, etc.) and hence can’t easily evaluate the fairness of the deal or whether the utility of the accessory is worth the price. “— Dooley, Roger. Brainfluence


I love sushi and I don’t know if I indulge in it because it’s really delicious or because I have started to think so due to my sub-conscious brain translating it to a delightful experience as it’s at the high-cost end of dining… and honestly, I don’t really care.

How about you?


Inspired by the book Brainfluence by Roger Dooley

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