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Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Antonio Rangel

Abstract

We propose a model of addiction based on three premises: (i) use among addicts is frequently a mistake; (ii) experience sensitizes an individual to environmental cues that trigger mistaken usage; (iii) addicts understand and manage their susceptibilities. We argue that these premises find support in evidence from psychology, neuroscience, and clinical practice. The model is tractable and generates a plausible mapping between behavior and the characteristics of the user, substance, and environment. It accounts for a number of important patterns associated with addiction, gives rise to a clear welfare standard, and has novel implications for policy.

Suggested Citation

  • B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:5:p:1558-1590
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828043052222
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627, Elsevier.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
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