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Choice Bracketing


  • Read, Daniel
  • Loewenstein, George
  • Rabin, Matthew


When making many choices, a person can broadly bracket them by assessing the consequences of all of them taken together. or narrowly bracket them by making each choice in isolation. We integrate research conducted in a wide range of decision contexts which shows that choice bracketing is an important determinant of behavior. Because broad bracketing allows people to take into account all the consequences of their actions, it generally leads to choices that yield higher utility. The evidence that we review, however, shows that people often fail to bracket broadly when it would be feasible for them to do so. In addition to documenting the diverse effects of bracketing, we also discuss factors that determine whether people bracket narrowly or broadly. We conclude with a discussion of normative aspects of bracketing and argue that there are some situations in which narrower bracketing results in superior decisionmaking. Copyright 1999 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-197, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:19:y:1999:i:1-3:p:171-97

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