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marginal utilitythe increase in satisfaction (UTILITY) a consumer derives from the use or CONSUMPTION of one additional (incremental) unit of a good or service in a particular time period. For example, if a consumer, having eaten three bars of chocolate, then eats a fourth bar, his TOTAL UTILITY will increase, and if he goes on to eat a fifth bar, his total utility will increase further. However, the marginal (incremental) utility derived from consuming the fifth bar of chocolate would tend not to be as great as the marginal utility from consuming the fourth bar, the consumer experiencing DIMINISHING MARGINAL UTILITY as he becomes sated with the product.
Most goods and services are subject to diminishing marginal utility, with consumers being prepared to pay less for successive units of these products since they are yielding lower levels of satisfaction. This explains why the DEMAND CURVE for such products slopes downwards. See CARDINAL UTILITY, ORDINAL UTILITY, CONSUMER UTILITY, CONSUMER EQUILIBRIUM, PARETO OPTIMALITY, PARADOX OF VALUE.