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The Price of Flexibility: Towards a Theory of Thinking Aversion

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  • Ortoleva, Pietro

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to model an agent who dislikes large choice sets because of the "cost of thinking" involved in choosing from them. We take as a primitive a preference relation over lotteries of menus and impose novel axioms that allow us to separately identify the genuine preference over the content of menus, and the cost of choosing from them. Using this, we formally define the notion of thinking aversion, much in line with the definitions of risk or ambiguity aversion. We represent such preference as the difference between a monotone and affine evaluation of the content of the set and an anticipated thinking cost function that assigns to each set a thinking cost. We further extend this characterization to the case of monotonicity of the genuine rank and introduce a measure of comparative thinking aversion. Finally, we propose behavioral axioms that guarantee that the cost of thinking can be represented as the sum of the cost to find the optimal choice in a set and the cost to find out which is the optimal choice.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12242/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12242.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12242

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Related research

Keywords: Cost of Thinking; Contemplation Cost; Bounded Rationality; Preference Over Menus; Preference for Flexibility; Choice overload;

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References

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  1. Sabourian, Hamid, 2004. "Bargaining and markets: complexity and the competitive outcome," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 189-228, June.
  2. Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman & Aldo Rustichini, 1998. "Standard State-Space Models Preclude Unawareness," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 159-174, January.
  3. Osborne, Martin J & Rubinstein, Ariel, 1998. "Games with Procedurally Rational Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 834-47, September.
  4. Epstein, Larry G. & Marinacci, Massimo & Seo, Kyoungwon, 2007. "Coarse contingencies and ambiguity," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(4), December.
  5. Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman & Aldo Rustichini, 2005. "Temptation–Driven Preferences," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-005, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  6. Emir Kamenica, 2008. "Contextual Inference in Markets: On the Informational Content of Product Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2127-49, December.
  7. Ricardo Reis, 2004. "Inattentive Consumers," Working Papers 135, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  8. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, 03.
  9. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  10. Ehud Kalai & William Stanford, 1986. "Finite Rationality and Interpersonal Complexity in Repeated Games," Discussion Papers 679, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L & Rustichini, Aldo, 2001. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 891-934, July.
  12. Ghirardato, Paolo & Marinacci, Massimo, 2002. "Ambiguity Made Precise: A Comparative Foundation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 251-289, February.
  13. Eddie Dekel & Barton L Lipman & Aldo Rustichini & Todd Sarver, 2007. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space: A Corrigendum -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 591-600, 03.
  14. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  15. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1989. "A Bounded-Rationality Approach to the Study of Noncooperative Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 273-91.
  16. Colin F. Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho & Juin-Kuan Chong, 2004. "A Cognitive Hierarchy Model of Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 861-898, August.
  17. Douglas Gale & Hamid Sabourian, 2005. "Complexity and Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 739-769, 05.
  18. Haluk Ergin & Todd Sarver, 2010. "A Unique Costly Contemplation Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1285-1339, 07.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Levav & Mark Heitmann & Andreas Herrmann & Sheena S. Iyengar, 2010. "Order in Product Customization Decisions: Evidence from Field Experiments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(2), pages 274-299, 04.
  2. Manzini, Paola & Mariotti, Marco, 2013. "Imperfect Attention and Menu Evaluations," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-98, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  3. Eric Danan Ani Guerdjikovaz Alexander Zimper, 2009. "Indecisiveness aversion and preference for commitment," THEMA Working Papers 2009-04, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  4. Elena Reutskaja & Rosemarie Nagel & Colin F. Camerer & Antonio Rangel, 2011. "Search Dynamics in Consumer Choice under Time Pressure: An Eye-Tracking Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 900-926, April.
  5. Brocas, Isabelle & Camerer, Colin & Carrillo, Juan D & Wang, Stephanie W., 2009. "Measuring attention and strategic behavior in games with private information," CEPR Discussion Papers 7529, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Eliaz, Kfir & Schotter, Andrew, 2010. "Paying for confidence: An experimental study of the demand for non-instrumental information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 304-324, November.
  7. David Freeman, 2013. "Revealed Preference Foundations of Expectations-Based Reference-Dependence," Discussion Papers dp13-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  8. Caplin, Andrew & Dean, Mark, 2011. "Search, choice, and revealed preference," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), January.
  9. Haluk Ergin & Todd Sarver, 2012. "Hidden Actions and Preferences for Timing of Resolution of Uncertainty," Discussion Papers 1567, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.

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