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Distinction Bias

Distinction Bias


Distinction Bias, is a cognitive bias that occurs when people perceive options as more distinct when they are presented together, as opposed to being presented separately. People tend to perceive differences between options as more significant when they are side by side, rather than individually.


1. Online Shopping:

When comparing different products online, customers are more likely to choose a higher-priced option if it is alongside a lower-priced option, even if the price difference is not justified by the features or quality of the products. This is because the higher option appears distinct and superior in comparison to the other option.

Online Shopping

2. Menu Design:

Restaurants often use distinction bias in their menu design. By placing an expensive dish next to a moderately priced dish, they can make the moderately priced dish seem like a better deal. Leading customers to choose it over other options.

Food Menu


Research studies have evidence of the existence of distinction bias. For example, a study in the Journal of Marketing Research found that participants were more likely to choose an expensive wine when it was alongside a cheaper wine, rather than when it was presented alone.

Another study in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that people were more likely to choose a larger portion size when it was alongside a smaller portion size, even if the larger portion size was not necessary.


Distinction Bias is a cognitive bias that influences decision-making by making options appear more distinct and appealing when presented together, as opposed to when they are separate. This bias can impact consumer choices in various contexts, such as online shopping, menu design, and product comparisons.

Useful Resources:

1. Conversion marketing – Glossary of Conversion Marketing.

2. Over 300 tools reviewed – Digital Marketing Toolbox.

3. “The Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar: This book explores various aspects of decision-making. Including cognitive biases, and provides insights on how to make better choices in different situations.

The Art of Choosing

4. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini: This classic book delves into the principles of influence and persuasion. Including how cognitive biases can impact decision-making and marketing strategies.

Influence Book

5. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman: This Nobel Prize-winning book discusses various cognitive biases and provides a comprehensive overview of the dual-system model of decision-making, which can help readers understand how biases can influence our choices.

Daniel Kahneman explains the law of small numbers