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A model of non-informational preference change

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  • Franz Dietrich

    (London School of Economics, UK and University of Maastricht, The Netherlands)

  • Christian List

    ()
    (London School of Economics, UK)

Abstract

According to standard rational choice theory, as commonly used in political science and economics, an agent's fundamental preferences are exogenously fixed, and any preference change over decision options is due to Bayesian information learning. Although elegant and parsimonious, such a model fails to account for preference change driven by experiences or psychological changes distinct from information learning. We develop a model of non-informational preference change. Alternatives are modelled as points in some multidimensional space, only some of whose dimensions play a role in shaping the agent's preferences. Any change in these 'motivationally salient' dimensions can change the agent's preferences. How it does so is described by a new representation theorem. Our model not only captures a wide range of frequently observed phenomena, but also generalizes some standard representations of preferences in political science and economics.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by in its journal Journal of Theoretical Politics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 145-164

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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:23:y:2011:i:2:p:145-164

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Related research

Keywords: bounded rationality; choice under uncertainty; dynamic inconsistency; multiple- criteria decision making; preference change; preference formation; representation theorem; salience; spatial voting theory;

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  1. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  3. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2001. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 273-297, April.
  4. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  5. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 159-73, February.
  6. Gerard Debreu, 1959. "Topological Methods in Cardinal Utility Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 76, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Dietrich, Franz, 2008. "Modelling change in individual characteristics: an axiomatic framework," Research Memorandum 045, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from?," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 613-637, August.

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