Achievement Bias in the Evolution of Preferences
Currently, economists' models of the evolutionary selection of utility function parameters are generally based on two assumptions. First, it is assumed that utility parameters must serve Darwinian fitness, in the sense that individuals who maximize utility are also maximizing their biological survivability. Second, it is assumed that utility parameters accurately reflect well-being, in the sense that individuals who maximize utility also maximize their happiness. However, there is a large literature in anthropology, biology, and psychology suggesting that these two assumptions may not be warranted. Focusing on utility and happiness, the paper uses models of cultural selection to show that there is no guarantee that our evolved preference must be the preferences that maximize our happiness. Instead, there are plausible mechanisms of cultural selection that will allow immiserating preferences to persist in steady state equilibrium. These mechanisms are generally related to the concept of social achievement: those who achieve more in society will have a greater influence on the utility parameters of the next generation, and this influence is independent of the achievers' well-being. Thus, a preference is more likely to survive if it satisfies some mix of achievement goals and happiness goals, rather than just happiness goals alone. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004
Volume (Year): 6 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/environmental/journal/10818/PS2|
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 2000.
"Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation,"
Journal of Human Resources,
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 1-29.
- Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary W. Hoynes, 1995. "Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 5126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- O. Attanasio & H. W. Hoynes, . "Differential mortality and wealth accumulation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1079-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
- Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001.
"Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999.
"Beyond the Melting Pot : Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits,"
DELTA Working Papers
1999-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
- Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
- Joseph E. Harrington & Jr., 1999. "Rigidity of Social Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 40-64, February.
- Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986.
"A Theory of Rational Addiction,"
University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State
41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Herbert Gintis, 1972. "A Radical Analysis of Welfare Economics and Individual Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(4), pages 572-599.
- Rogers, Alan R, 1994. "Evolution of Time Preference by Natural Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 460-81, June.
- David B. Gross, 2002.
"An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency,"
Review of Financial Studies,
Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
- David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-28, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
- David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," NBER Working Papers 8409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
- Güth, Werner & Ockenfels, Axel, 1999.
"Evolutionary norm enforcement,"
SFB 373 Discussion Papers
1999,84, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
- Werner Gueth & Axel Ockenfels, 2000. "Evolutionary Norm Enforcement," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 156(2), pages 335-, June.
- Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
- Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992.
"A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
- Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
- A. Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, 1997. "Values and Institutions in Economic Analysis," Working Papers 97-4, Brown University, Department of Economics.
- Tyler Cowen & Alexander Tabarrok, 2000. "An Economic Theory of Avant-Garde and Popular Art, or High and Low Culture," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 232-253, July.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, .
"Happiness, Economy and Institutions,"
IEW - Working Papers
015, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
- Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:6:y:2004:i:2:p:195-226. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.