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Where do preferences come from?

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  • Franz Dietrich
  • Christian List

    ()

Abstract

Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice (Dietrich and List, Nous, forthcoming), we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent’s preferences are based on certain ‘motivationally salient’ properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new properties of the alternatives become salient or previously salient properties cease to be salient. Our approach captures endogenous preferences in various contexts and helps to illuminate the distinction between formal and substantive concepts of rationality, as well as the role of perception in rational choice. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal International Journal of Game Theory.

Volume (Year): 42 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 613-637

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jogath:v:42:y:2013:i:3:p:613-637

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Related research

Keywords: Preference formation; Preference change; Properties; Motivations; Reasons; Endogenous preferences; Formal versus substantive rationality; Perception;

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References

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  1. Natalie Gold & Christian List, 2002. "Framing as Path-Dependence," Economics Series Working Papers 124, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Robert Sugden, 2005. "Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-118.
  4. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  5. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," Microeconomics.ca working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
  6. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  7. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  9. 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).
  10. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2011. "A model of non-informational preference change," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(2), pages 145-164, April.
  11. Hammond, Peter J, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 159-73, February.
  12. Michael Bacharach, 2006. "The Hi-Lo Paradox, from Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory
    [Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  13. 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).
  14. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  15. Dietrich, Franz, 2008. "Anti-terrorism politics and the risk of provoking," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  16. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2001. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 273-297, April.
  17. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
  18. Eddie Dekel & Jeffrey C. Ely & Okan Yilankaya, 2007. "Evolution of Preferences -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 685-704.
  19. Dietrich Franz & List Christian, 2009. "A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
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