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Suboptimal choices and the need for experienced individual well-being in economic analysis

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  • Christopher K. Hsee
  • Yuval Rottenstreich
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

Standard economic analysis assumes that people make choices that maximise their utility. Yet both popular discourse and other fields assume that people sometimes fail to make optimal choices and thus adversely affect their own happiness. Most social sciences thus frequently describe some patterns of decision as suboptimal. We review evidence of suboptimal choices that arise for two reasons. First, people err in predicting the utility they may accrue from available choice options due to the evaluation mode. Second, people choose on the basis of salient rules that are unlikely to maximise utility. Our review is meant to highlight the possibility of a research programme that combines economic analysis with measures of individuals' experienced well-being to improve people's happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher K. Hsee & Yuval Rottenstreich & Alois Stutzer, 2012. "Suboptimal choices and the need for experienced individual well-being in economic analysis," International Journal of Happiness and Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 63-85.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijhdev:v:1:y:2012:i:1:p:63-85
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    Cited by:

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    3. Comerford, David A. & Ubel, Peter A., 2013. "Effort Aversion: Job choice and compensation decisions overweight effort," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 152-162.
    4. Odermatt, Reto & Stutzer, Alois, 2020. "Does the Dream of Home Ownership Rest upon Biased Beliefs? A Test Based on Predicted and Realized Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 13510, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Reto Odermatt & Alois Stutzer, 2019. "(Mis-)Predicted Subjective Well-Being Following Life Events," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 245-283.
    6. Odermatt, Reto & Stutzer, Alois, 2017. "Subjective Well-Being and Public Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 11102, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Arie Sherman & Tal Shavit & Guy Barokas, 2020. "A Dynamic Model on Happiness and Exogenous Wealth Shock: The Case of Lottery Winners," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 117-137, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    suboptimal choices; individual well-being; experienced utility; evaluation mode; salient rule; utility misprediction; economic analysis; happiness.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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