There is an article published by Luigi Mittone and Lucia Savadori about scarcity and our perceived biases towards it. The idea of the scarcity bias is that the “subjetcive value of a good increases due to the mere fact that it is scarce.” The idea is that scarcity affects us deeply. It makes goods seem more attractive in our perception. It’s basically enhancing the popularity of something if it seems like there’s less of it because other people are getting it first. We don’t want to miss out on anything or not feel included. So if we notice something is scarce we perceive it more highly over something exactly the same.
Cookie Jar Example
I always come back to the cookie jar example. Jar A has 3 cookies, Jar B has 10. People tend to reach for a cookie from Jar A. Because there are fewer of them we value them more highly (because we assume they’re someone better since other people must have also taken them). See how social proof snuck in there a litle bit as well. If something is seen as scarce and we see other people are/were interested we are more likely to go for that same item before we miss out. Hello FOMO.
We want to feel unique. So if there’s less of something we might snatch it because we don’t want to be like everyone else and have the same thing. So we grab the last of something to feel different than the crowd.
In the experiment done by Mittone and Savadori their conclusions supported their prediction on the role of scarcity, that it “works as an attractive mechanism that increases the value that the subjects attribute to the good (Mittone Savadori, 2009).”
You can check out the full article here.