There is a basic principle in economics that says as follows: to find out what people demand, don't listen to their words (what they claim to want) but rather examine their actual purchasing choices. What is the term for this?

  • 1
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:01
  • Want to make it an answer? Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:02
  • Gotta commute, anyone's free to take it.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:11
  • 1
    There are similar concepts in UX and design. User behavior is often different than user claims of behavior.
    – user116680
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 0:26
  • Yeah, in voting too, especially on social issues. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


As RegDwight has promptly suggested, the expression you are looking for is dollar voting:

  • In economics, dollar voting is an analogy used to explain how the purchasing choices of consumers affect which products will continue to be produced and supplied to the market. Every dollar paid for a particular product may be considered a "dollar vote" for that product, such that the products with the largest number of dollar votes generate the most profit and will therefore continue to be produced.

  • The reference to "dollar" is just an example; the principle holds for any currency.


  • I think I'm looking for a term that suggests that people will claim to like red coats, but actually buy blue ones. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 20:57
  • @thumbtackthief - are you referring to this? The black box model shows the interaction of stimuli, consumer characteristics, decision process and consumer responses. It can be distinguished between interpersonal stimuli (between people) or intrapersonal stimuli (within people). The black box model is related to the black box theory of behaviorism, where the focus is not set on the processes inside a consumer, but the relation between the stimuli and the response of the consumer. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_behaviour#Purchase_decision
    – user66974
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 21:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.