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Dopamine, Reward Prediction Error, and Economics

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  • Andrew Caplin
  • Mark Dean

Abstract

The neurotransmitter dopamine has been found to play a crucial role in choice, learning, and belief formation. The best-developed current theory of dopaminergic function is the "reward prediction error" hypothesis—that dopamine encodes the difference between the experienced and predicted "reward" of an event. We provide axiomatic foundations for this hypothesis to help bridge the current conceptual gap between neuroscience and economics. Continued research in this area of overlap between social and natural science promises to overhaul our understanding of how beliefs and preferences are formed, how they evolve, and how they play out in the act of choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2008. "Dopamine, Reward Prediction Error, and Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 663-701.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:663-701.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2008.123.2.663
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & James H. Fowler & Bruno S. Frey, 2010. "Genes, economics, and happiness," IEW - Working Papers 475, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    2. Jack Vromen, 2011. "Neuroeconomics: two camps gradually converging: what can economics gain from it?," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(3), pages 267-285, September.
    3. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2008. "Economic Insights from "Neuroeconomic" Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 169-174, May.
    4. Witt, Ulrich & Binder, Martin, 2013. "Disentangling motivational and experiential aspects of “utility” – A neuroeconomics perspective," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 27-40.
    5. Elena Krugliakova & Alexey Gorin & Anna Shestakova & Tommaso Fedele & Aleksandra Kuznetsova & Vasily Klucharev, 2016. "Asymmetric Modulation of Frn by the Probability and Value of Outcomes in Auditory Mid Task," HSE Working papers WP BRP 67/PSY/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    6. Hogarth, Robin M. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2014. "Ambiguous incentives and the persistence of effort: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-19.
    7. Kuhnen, Camelia M. & Knutson, Brian, 2011. "The Influence of Affect on Beliefs, Preferences, and Financial Decisions," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 605-626, June.
    8. Jason M. Fletcher & Steven F. Lehrer, 2009. "Using Genetic Lotteries within Families to Examine the Causal Impact of Poor Health on Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 15148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Élise PAYZAN LE NESTOUR, 2010. "Bayesian Learning in UnstableSettings: Experimental Evidence Based on the Bandit Problem," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 10-28, Swiss Finance Institute.
    10. Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde & Itzhak Aharon, 2011. "From Neuroeconomics to Genetics: The Intertemporal Choices Case as an Example," Post-Print ijn_00713466, HAL.
    11. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2008. "On An Evolutionary Foundation Of Neuroeconomics," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(03), pages 495-513, November.
    12. Daniel Burghart & Paul Glimcher & Stephanie Lazzaro, 2013. "An expected utility maximizer walks into a bar..," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 215-246, June.
    13. Jeffrey Carpenter & Justin Garcia & J. Lum, 2011. "Dopamine receptor genes predict risk preferences, time preferences, and related economic choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 233-261, June.
    14. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D., 2014. "Dual-process theories of decision-making: A selective survey," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 45-54.
    15. Proto, Eugenio & Rustichini, 2012. "A Reassessment of the Relationship Between GDP and Life Satisfaction," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 94, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    16. Caplin, Andrew, 2014. "Rational inattention and revealed preference: The data-theoretic approach to economic modeling," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 295-305.

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