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On the causes and consequences of hedonic adaptation

  • Perez-Truglia, Ricardo

We provide a simple evolutionary explanation for the emergence of hedonic adaptation. The model’s key assumption is that, apart from guiding long-term behavior, some sensations fulfill warning and defense roles (e.g., pain). Contrary to the alternative evolutionary explanations for hedonic adaptation (Robson, 2002; Rayo and Becker, 2007), our theory can explain why some sensations are adaptive, while others (with warning/defense roles) are not adaptive at all. Finally, we show that differential adaptation has important welfare and policy implications.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 1182-1192

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:6:p:1182-1192
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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  1. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Smith, Trenton G. & Tasnadi, Attila, 2005. "A Theory of Natural Addiction," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19195, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
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  5. Bottan, Nicolas Luis & Perez Truglia, Ricardo, 2011. "Deconstructing the hedonic treadmill: Is happiness autoregressive?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 224-236, May.
  6. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1061-1077, June.
  7. Beshears, John Leonard & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte, 2008. "How Are Preferences Revealed?," Scholarly Articles 11130523, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 11-33, March.
  9. Arthur J. Robson, 2001. "Why Would Nature Give Individuals Utility Functions?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 900-929, August.
  10. Arthur J. Robson, 2002. "Evolution and Human Nature," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 89-106, Spring.
  11. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  12. David Laibson, 2001. "A Cue-Theory Of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 81-119, February.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Antonio Rangel, 2011. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Economic Choice--Recent Advances," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 3-30, Fall.
  14. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
  15. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
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