Complexity and Bounded Rationality in Individual Decision Problems
AbstractI develop a model of endogenous bounded rationality due to search costs, arising implicitly from the problem's complexity. The decision maker is not required to know the entire structure of the problem when making choices but can think ahead, through costly search, to reveal more of it. However, the costs of search are not assumed exogenously; they are inferred from revealed preferences through her choices. Thus, bounded rationality and its extent emerge endogenously: as problems become simpler or as the benefits of deeper search become larger relative to its costs, the choices more closely resemble those of a rational agent. For a fixed decision problem, the costs of search will vary across agents. For a given decision maker, they will vary across problems. The model explains, therefore, why the disparity, between observed choices and those prescribed under rationality, varies across agents and problems. It also suggests, under reasonable assumptions, an identifying prediction: a relation between the benefits of deeper search and the depth of the search. As long as calibration of the search costs is possible, this can be tested on any agent-problem pair. My approach provides a common framework for depicting the underlying limitations that force departures from rationality in different and unrelated decision-making situations. Specifically, I show that it is consistent with violations of timing independence in temporal framing problems, dynamic inconsistency and diversification bias in sequential versus simultaneous choice problems, and with plausible but contrasting risk attitudes across small- and large-stakes gambles.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews in its series Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics with number 201314.
Date of creation:
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: School of Economics and Finance, University of St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL
Phone: 01334 462420
Fax: 01334 462444
Web page: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/economics/
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Theodoros M. Diasakos, 2008. "Complexity and Bounded Rationality in Individual Decision Problems," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 90, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
- D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-10-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2013-10-18 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2013-10-18 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-UPT-2013-10-18 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John D. Hey, 2005.
"Do People (Want To) Plan?,"
Scottish Journal of Political Economy,
Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(1), pages 122-138, 02.
- Binmore,K. & McCarthy,J. & Ponti,G. & ..., 1999.
"A backward induction experiment,"
34, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002.
"Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
- Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
- Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- 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.
- Enrica Carbone & John Hey, .
"A Test of the Principle of Optimality,"
99/9, Department of Economics, University of York.
- Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
7656, David K. Levine.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Kalyan Chatterjee & Hamid Sabourian, 2000.
"Multiperson Bargaining and Strategic Complexity,"
Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1491-1510, November.
- Kalyan Chatterjee & Hamid Sabourian, 1998. "Multiperson Bargaining and Strategic Complexity," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 9808, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
- Chatterjee, K. & Sabourian, H., 1997. "Multiperson Bargaining and Strategic Complexity," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9733, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
- Cubitt, Robin P & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1998. "Dynamic Choice and the Common Ratio Effect: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1362-80, September.
- Douglas Gale & Hamid Sabourian, 2005. "Complexity and Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 739-769, 05.
- John Hey & Jinkwon Lee, 2005. "Do Subjects Separate (or Are They Sophisticated)?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 233-265, September.
- Jehiel, Philippe, 2001. "Limited Foresight May Force Cooperation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 369-91, April.
- Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007.
"Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877, 05.
- Karni, Edi & Safra, Zvi, 1990.
"Behaviorally consistent optimal stopping rules,"
Journal of Economic Theory,
Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 391-402, August.
- Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-97, December.
- Lee, Jihong & Sabourian, Hamid, 2007. "Coase theorem, complexity and transaction costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 214-235, July.
- Ehud Kalai & William Stanford, 1986.
"Finite Rationality and Interpersonal Complexity in Repeated Games,"
679, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Kalai, Ehud & Stanford, William, 1988. "Finite Rationality and Interpersonal Complexity in Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 397-410, March.
- Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
- Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
- Eliaz, Kfir, 2003.
"Nash equilibrium when players account for the complexity of their forecasts,"
Games and Economic Behavior,
Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 286-310, August.
- Eliaz, K., 2001. "Nash Equilibrium When Players Account for the Complexity of their Forecasts," Papers 2001-6, Tel Aviv.
- Uzi Segal, 1985.
"The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach,"
UCLA Economics Working Papers
362, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Segal, Uzi, 1987. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 175-202, February.
- Goldman, Steven M, 1980. "Consistent Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 533-37, April.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bram Boskamp).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.