Why gas prices stick in our mind and do we have a choice?
Although gas prices are lower than they were a few weeks ago, that doesn’t stop consumers from griping about the cost of gasoline. Memorial Day is the kick-off to the summer driving season and it gets motorists talking as the weather begins to heat up. According to an article in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Americans are obsessed with the price of gasoline more than any other item that we buy.
Economists say that gas prices stick in our mind because they are "salient." That means they stay prominent in our minds because we see them every day. Every time we pass a gas station we are reminded of the price and how it affects our wallets. And unlike bills that we pay monthly, we have to buy gas every week. As the Tahoe Daily Tribune points out, Milk is $4 a gallon, but we buy only one. When we fill up with gas, we usually have to spend $50 or more.
As the prices continue to climb, the frustration grows because we really don’t have an alternative. "The oil companies have cornered the market and they are squeezing us for everything we have," says Bob Simpson, 62, of Lodi, N.J., who pays close to $60 to fill up his Ford Escape. Americans love their automobiles and love to drive. "Driving is a symbol of freedom in the U.S.," says Shanjun Li, an economist who studies consumer behavior at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics.