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A Theory of Choice under Internal Conflict

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    Abstract

    In this paper we argue, inspired by some psychological literature, that choices are the outcome of the interplay of diff erent, potentially conflicting motivations. We propose an axiomatic approach with two motivations, which we assume to be single-peaked over a certain given dimension. We first consider the case in which motivations are given and stable, and then introduce the possibility for motivations to change. We show first that in the no-motivation change case, certain choice behaviours that appear to be inconsistent from the standard rational choice point of view may be explained in our framework as the outcome of conflicting motivations. Afterwards, in the case of motivation change, we present two psychologically-flavoured assumptions about how motivations are influenced by choices. We show that, with some additional weak assumptions of rationality, motivation change leads to a smaller range of potentially inconsistent choices and not to a larger one as one may think. In particular, conflicts between two motivations can eventually be resolved by choosing di fferent actions and consequently a definite and final preference for an action be revealed.

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    File URL: ftp://ftp.econ.unavarra.es/pub/DocumentosTrab/DT1208.PDF
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra in its series Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra with number 1208.

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    Date of creation: 2012
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    Publication status: Published in
    Handle: RePEc:nav:ecupna:1208

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    Related research

    Keywords: Motivation; Pleasure; Self-Image; Conflict; Preference Reversal; Dissonance reduction.;

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
    2. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    3. Gil Kalai & Ariel Rubenstein & Ran Spiegler, 2001. "Rationalizing Choice Functions by Multiple Rationales," Economics Working Papers 0010, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
    4. Davis,John B., 2010. "Individuals and Identity in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107001923, October.
    5. Nick Baigent, 1995. "Behind The Veil Of Preference," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 88-101, 03.
    6. Cherry, Todd L. & Crocker, Thomas D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2003. "Rationality spillovers," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 63-84, January.
    7. H. Moulin, 1980. "On strategy-proofness and single peakedness," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 437-455, January.
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