The nonfungibility of mental accounting: A revision

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Yuntong Gou
Yuan Jiang
Rui Li
Danmin Miao
Jiaxi Peng
Cite this article:  Gou, Y., Jiang, Y., Li, R., Miao, D., & Peng, J. (2013). The nonfungibility of mental accounting: A revision. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 41(4), 625-634.


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Nonfungibility is taken to be the fundamental characteristic of mental accounting. We put forward the hypothesis that nonfungibility is not absolute: that there is a flow of money from an account containing consumer items of low psychological value to an account containing consumer items of high psychological value. To evaluate the hypothesis we designed 2 related experiments, and invited 236 undergraduates and 240 male workers to participate in the research. It was shown in Study 1 that there was a flow of money from a luxury account to either a communication or a food account, and from a communication account to a food account, but not in the opposite directions. In Study 2 it was found that with the increased attractiveness of a gamble, the flow of money into an entertainment account from other accounts became more likely. The results in this study offer preliminary evidence of the agility of mental accounts.

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