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A theory of reference-dependent behavior

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Author Info

  • Jose Apesteguia

    ()

  • Miguel Ballester

    ()

Abstract

Extensive field and experimental evidence in a variety of environments show that behavior depends on a reference point. This paper provides an axiomatic characterization of this dependence. We proceed by imposing gradually more structure on both choice correspondences and preference relations, requiring increasingly higher levels of rationality, and freeing the decision-maker from certain types of inconsistencies. The appropriate degree of behavioral structure will depend on the phenomenon that is to be modeled. Lastly, we provide two applications of our work: one to model the status-quo bias, and another to model addictive behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 40 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 427-455

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:40:y:2009:i:3:p:427-455

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Related research

Keywords: Individual rationality; Reference-dependence; Rationalization; Path independence; Status-quo bias; Addiction; Habit formation; A12; B41; D11;

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References

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  1. Steffen Huck & Georg Kirchsteiger & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Learning to Like What You Have - Explaining the Endowment Effect," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse5_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. BOSSERT, Walter & SPRUMONT, Yves, 2001. "Non-Deteriorating Choice," Cahiers de recherche 2001-01, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  3. A. Rubinstein & L. Zhou, 1998. "Choice Problems with a "Reference" Point," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 00s3, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  4. Knetsch, Jack L & Sinden, J A, 1984. "Willingness to Pay and Compensation Demanded: Experimental Evidence of an Unexpected Disparity in Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(3), pages 507-21, August.
  5. Tversky, Amos & Slovic, Paul & Kahneman, Daniel, 1990. "The Causes of Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 204-17, March.
  6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  7. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  8. Mandler, Michael, 2005. "Incomplete preferences and rational intransitivity of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 255-277, February.
  9. Sugden, Robert, 2003. "Reference-dependent subjective expected utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 172-191, August.
  10. Pollak, Robert A, 1970. "Habit Formation and Dynamic Demand Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(4), pages 745-63, Part I Ju.
  11. Raphaël Giraud, 2004. "Reference-dependent preferences : rationality, mechanism and welfare implications," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v04087, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  12. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  13. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  14. Raphaël Giraud, 2012. "Money matters: an axiomatic theory of the endowment effect," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 303-339, June.
  15. Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165, November.
  16. Sagi, Jacob S., 2006. "Anchored preference relations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 283-295, September.
  17. Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
  18. Munro, Alistair & Sugden, Robert, 2003. "On the theory of reference-dependent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 407-428, April.
  19. Bateman, Ian J, et al, 1997. "A Test of the Theory of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 479-505, May.
  20. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  21. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Amadeo Piolatto & Matthew Rablen, 2013. "Prospect theory and tax evasion: a reconsideration of the Yitzhaki Puzzle," IFS Working Papers W13/25, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Daniel Krähmer & Rebecca Stone, 2013. "Anticipated regret as an explanation of uncertainty aversion," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 709-728, March.
  3. Ghossoub, Mario, 2011. "Towards a Purely Behavioral Definition of Loss Aversion," MPRA Paper 37628, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Mar 2012.
  4. Özgür Evren, 2012. "Scalarization Methods and Expected Multi-Utility Representations," Working Papers w0174, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  5. Apesteguia, Jose & Ballester, Miguel A., 2013. "Choice by sequential procedures," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 90-99.
  6. Bruttel, Lisa & Friehe, Tim, 2014. "On the path dependence of tax compliance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 90-107.
  7. Anderson, Torben M. & Bhattacharya, Joydeep, 2008. "On Myopia As Rationale for Social Security," Staff General Research Papers 12985, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Evren, Özgür & Ok, Efe A., 2011. "On the multi-utility representation of preference relations," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4-5), pages 554-563.
  9. Papi, Mauro, 2012. "Satisficing choice procedures," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 451-462.
  10. Daniele Pennesi, 2013. "Endogenous Status Quo," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 314, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  11. Raphaël Giraud, 2010. "On the interpretation of the WTP/WTA gap as imprecise utility: an axiomatic analysis," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(1), pages 692-701.
  12. Douadia Bougherara & Xavier Gassmann & Laurent Piet, 2011. "A structural estimation of French farmers’ risk preferences: an artefactual field experiment," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 11-06, INRA UMR SMART.
  13. Raphaël Giraud, 2012. "Money matters: an axiomatic theory of the endowment effect," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 303-339, June.

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