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Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences

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  • Edward Castronova

    (Cal State Fullerton)

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    Abstract

    The paper develops an evolutionary selection model of the cultural transmission of preferences, focusing on the survival probability of certain preference types. The fitness of a preference is defined in terms of the ease with which its carrier can transmit the preference to the young. For example, a taste for work gives its carriers more income than is obtained by those who carry a taste for leisure. If higher income allows a given carrier to transmit her preferences more easily, then those with a taste for work will be more likely to transmit their preferences to the young; hence a taste for work will be more evolutionarily fit than a taste for leisure. In general, cultural transmission of preferences will favor any tastes that facilitate their own transmission, especially tastes for social achievements such as income, power, mass communication, and knowledge. The resulting pattern of tastes can be biased in the following sense: if the young generation were not influenced by achievement effects, they would choose preferences that would make them happier.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Berkeley Electronic Press in its series Gruter Institute Working Papers on Law, Economics, and Evolutionary Biology with number 2-1-1010.

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    Handle: RePEc:bep:grleeb:2-1-1010

    Note: oai:bepress:giwp-1010
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    Web page: http://www.bepress.com/giwp/default/

    Related research

    Keywords: preferences; evolution; well-being;

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    1. A. Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, 1997. "Values and Institutions in Economic Analysis," Working Papers 97-4, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    2. Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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    12. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
    13. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    14. 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.
    15. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
    16. Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
    17. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
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