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Whether or not to open Pandora's box

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  • Doval, Laura

Abstract

I study a single-agent sequential search problem as in Weitzman (1979). Contrary to Weitzman, conditional on stopping, the agent may take any uninspected box without first inspecting its contents. This introduces a new trade-off. By taking a box without inspection, the agent saves on its inspection costs. However, by inspecting it, he may discover that its contents are lower than he anticipated. I identify sufficient conditions on the parameters of the environment under which I characterize the optimal policy. Both the order in which boxes are inspected and the stopping rule may differ from that in Weitzman's model. Moreover, I provide additional results that partially characterize the optimal policy when these conditions fail.

Suggested Citation

  • Doval, Laura, 2018. "Whether or not to open Pandora's box," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 127-158.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:175:y:2018:i:c:p:127-158
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2018.01.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hao Li & Xianwen Shi, 2017. "Discriminatory Information Disclosure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3363-3385, November.
    2. Geoffroy de Clippel & Kfir Eliaz & Kareen Rozen, 2014. "Competing for Consumer Inattention," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(6), pages 1203-1234.
    3. Weitzman, Martin L, 1979. "Optimal Search for the Best Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 641-654, May.
    4. Hector Chade & Lones Smith, 2006. "Simultaneous Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1293-1307, September.
    5. Olszewski, Wojciech & Weber, Richard, 2015. "A more general Pandora rule?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 429-437.
    6. Mark Armstrong & Jidong Zhou, 2016. "Search Deterrence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 26-57.
    7. Elchanan Ben-Porath & Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman, 2014. "Optimal Allocation with Costly Verification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3779-3813, December.
    8. Vishwanath, Tara, 1992. "Parallel Search for the Best Alternative," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 2(4), pages 495-507, October.
    9. Daniel Krähmer & Roland Strausz, 2011. "Optimal Procurement Contracts with Pre-Project Planning," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 1015-1041.
    10. Chade, Hector & Kovrijnykh, Natalia, 2016. "Delegated information acquisition with moral hazard," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 55-92.
    11. Juan-JosÈ Ganuza & JosÈ S. Penalva, 2010. "Signal Orderings Based on Dispersion and the Supply of Private Information in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 1007-1030, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Armstrong, 2017. "Ordered Consumer Search," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(5), pages 989-1024.
    2. Elchanan Ben-Porath & Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman, 2014. "Optimal Allocation with Costly Verification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3779-3813, December.
    3. Artem Hulko & Mark Whitmeyer, 2018. "Information Provision in a Sequential Search Setting," Papers 1802.09396, arXiv.org, revised Jun 2018.
    4. Yunan Li, 2017. "Mechanism Design with Costly Verification and Limited Punishments, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 16-009, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 28 Sep 2017.
    5. Manuel Mueller-Frank & Mallesh M. Pai, 2016. "Social Learning with Costly Search," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 83-109, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Search; Information acquisition;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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