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Do People (Want To) Plan?

  • John D. Hey

This paper makes a modest contribution to investigating whether people, when tackling dynamic decision problems, formulate plans and then implement them. Assumed behaviour of this form is central to many theories of economic decision-making, yet much direct empirical evidence (from economists and particularly from psychologists) suggests that it has rather dubious empirical support. The paper begins by discussing the importance and centrality of planning to economic theories of dynamic decision-making, and then examines the difficulty of empirically investigating whether planning occurs. It then describes a simple experiment that sheds some light on this phenomenon. The findings from the experiment, although only directly relevant to the context of the experiment, do suggest that people do (want to) plan when the circumstances are appropriate. The paper concludes by discussing alternative designs. Copyright (c) Scottish Economic Society 2005.

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Article provided by Scottish Economic Society in its journal Scottish Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 52 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 122-138

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Handle: RePEc:bla:scotjp:v:52:y:2005:i:1:p:122-138
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  1. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
  2. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-83, June.
  3. Kreps, David M. & Porteus, Evan L., 1979. "Temporal von neumann-morgenstern and induced preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 81-109, February.
  4. Hammond, P.J. & , ., 1987. "Consequentialist foundations for expected utility," CORE Discussion Papers 1987016, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-68, December.
  6. Enrica Carbone & John Hey, . "A Test of the Principle of Optimality," Discussion Papers 99/9, Department of Economics, University of York.
  7. 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.
  8. Cubitt, Robin P, 1996. "Rational Dynamic Choice and Expected Utility Theory," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-19, January.
  9. Machina, Mark J., 1984. "Temporal risk and the nature of induced preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 199-231, August.
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