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Temptation-Driven Preferences

  • Eddie Dekel
  • Barton L. Lipman
  • Aldo Rustichini

"My own behaviour baffles me. For I find myself not doing what I really want to do but doing what I really loathe." Saint PaulWhat behaviour can be explained using the hypothesis that the agent faces temptation but is otherwise a "standard rational agent"? In earlier work, Gul and Pesendorfer (2001) use a set betweenness axiom to restrict the set of preferences considered by Dekel, Lipman and Rustichini (2001) to those explainable via temptation. We argue that set betweenness rules out plausible and interesting forms of temptation including some which may be important in applications. We propose a pair of alternative axioms called DFC, desire for commitment, and AIC, approximate improvements are chosen. DFC characterizes temptation as situations in which given any set of alternatives, the agent prefers committing herself to some particular item from the set rather than leaving herself the flexibility of choosing later. AIC is based on the idea that if adding an option to a menu improves the menu, it is because that option is chosen under some circumstances. From this interpretation, the axiom concludes that if an improvement is worse (as a commitment) than some commitment from the menu, then the best commitment from the improved menu is strictly preferred to facing that menu. We show that these axioms characterize a natural generalization of the Gul-Pesendorfer representation. Copyright , Wiley-Blackwell.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 937-971

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:3:p:937-971
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  1. Kreps, David M, 1979. "A Representation Theorem for "Preference for Flexibility"," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 565-77, May.
  2. Dekel, Eddie & Lipman, Barton L & Rustichini, Aldo, 2001. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 891-934, July.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2004. "A Dual Self Model of Impulse Control," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2049, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  5. Eddie eckel & Barton L Lipman & Aldo Rustichini & Todd Sarver, 2005. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space: Corrigendum," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-042, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  6. Jawwad Noor, 2006. "Temptation, Welfare and Revealed Preference," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-025, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  7. Manuel Amador & Ivan Werning & George-Marios Angeletos, 2003. "Commitment Vs. Flexibility," NBER Working Papers 10151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Haluk Ergin & Todd Sarver, 2010. "A Unique Costly Contemplation Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1285-1339, 07.
  9. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-68, December.
  10. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  11. Jawwad Noor, 2006. "Menu-Dependent Self-Control," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001061, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Peter A. Diamond, 1967. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 765.
  13. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, 03.
  14. repec:ubc:bricol:90-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Kopylov Igor, 2009. "Temptations in General Settings," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-25, September.
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