"Bonus" vs "Rebate" - What's in a name?

To answer the question in this post's title, a lot, apparently, is in a name. Nicholas Eply, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, writes in a New York Times op-ed that people are much more likely to spend cash windfalls described as "bonuses" than identical ones described as "rebates." Interesting, sure, but is there a real-world application for this discovery? As it happens, an upcoming economic stimulus package will be distributing hundreds of dollars to American taxpayers; the intention is that we'll spend it, thereby jump-starting the stalling economy. The problem is that this distribution is being called a "rebate" everywhere it's talked about, rather than a "bonus" - and apparently the whole thing won't work if people save the money instead of spending it. So it turns out that even governmental actions like this are subject to the rules of product design - you've gotta know how to play to the user's mind!
[via Good Experience]

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