Gasoline price psychology

Those of us who’ve watched the rise and fall of gasoline prices during the past 40 years have seen rising price patterns that condition us to acceptance…even joy.   For example, prices might be around $2. a gallon.   They’d gradually rise to $3.  Just as we’d begin to complain that we “weren’t going to take it any more”, prices would begin to drop.   The cost at USA pumps would settle at around $2.50 to #2.75  a gallon.  We’d be happy and grateful for the “lower” cost of running our vehicles.  This recent cycle drove prices up to around $4.   Now, the prices are dropping again.  They’re likely to settle around $3.50.   Many of us will be happy and grateful again.  It seems to me a pattern that repeats itself over and over again  suggests a plan to leave us happy about a price that is 50-cents more than a few months ago.  I can hear a character in a planning session (perhaps fictional perhaps not) saying, “we’ll raise the cost of  oil to XYZ  a barrel which will mean about a dollar more per gallon at the pump. then when we back it off  so it’s 50 cents less . Drivers will accept it and be grateful.” Two steps upward and one step downward seems to be a psychological technique that works…over and over again.


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