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Helping Consumers Know Themselves


  • Emir Kamenica
  • Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Richard Thaler


Firms sometimes know more about a consumer's expected usage than the consumer herself. We explore the consequences of this reversal in the information asymmetry. We analyze the consequences of making consumers more informed about themselves. While making consumers more informed decreases their expenditure conditional on a given set of prices, equilibrium prices may increase, offsetting the direct benefit of information. We discuss theoretical and practical issues surrounding so-called RECAP regulation that would require firms to provide each consumer with information about her own usage of the firm's product.

Suggested Citation

  • Emir Kamenica & Sendhil Mullainathan & Richard Thaler, 2011. "Helping Consumers Know Themselves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 417-422, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:417-22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540.
    2. Meglena Jeleva & Bertrand Villeneuve, 2004. "Insurance contracts with imprecise probabilities and adverse selection," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 23(4), pages 777-794, May.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5358 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213-213.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ran Spiegler, 2015. "On the Equilibrium Effects of Nudging," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 389-416.
    2. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    3. Samuel Ferey & Yannick Gabuthy & Nicolas Jacquemet, 2013. "L'apport de l'économie expérimentale dans l'élaboration des politiques publiques," Revue française d'économie, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(2), pages 155-194.
    4. Meyer, Steffen & Urban, Linda & Ahlswede, Sophie, 2016. "Does feedback on personal investment success help?," SAFE Working Paper Series 157, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    5. Ran Spiegler, 2014. "Competitive Framing," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 35-58, August.
    6. Schumacher, Heiner, 2014. "Incentives through consumer learning about tastes," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 170-177.

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