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Auction fever: the unrecognized effects of incidental arousal


Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Adam M T P;Ku G;Lux E


Publication Year



Despite countless anecdotes about emotionally-charged bidding in auctions, there is little research to help understand what causes auction fever and why it persists. Because research has only considered how integral arousal (i.e., arousal from within the auction) affects bidding, the current research considered whether incidental arousal (i.e., arousal from outside the auction) also increases bidding. With two different manipulations of arousal, Experiments 1 and 2 showed that incidental arousal increased bidding in live auctions with monetary stakes. Experiment 1 also measured arousal physiologically to demonstrate its role in bidding. Experiment 3 utilized a third manipulation of incidental arousal and found that individuals were unaware of its effects. Overall, the current research demonstrates how bidders are potentially subject to many different sources of arousal that have nothing to do with auctions, all of which can unwittingly increase individuals’ bidding.


Arousal; Auctions; Economic exchange; Heart rate

Available on ECCH


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