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The impossibility of rational consumer choice

Author

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  • Jakob Kapeller

    ()

  • Bernhard Schütz

    ()

  • Stefan Steinerberger

    ()

Abstract

In this paper we show that a rational consumer choice along the lines traditionally suggested might lead to paradoxical results if one considers multidimensional goods, which incorporate a series of incommensurable aspects. Thereby, we explore the similarity between the resulting paradox and Kenneth Arrow’s well known Impossibility Theorem. Based on these considerations we suggest a solution for the former problem along the lines of Herbert Simon and Amos Tversky, which might—if driven to its extreme—even provide a unique and arguably rational solution for consumer choice among multidimensional goods. Eventually, we argue that the resulting framework poses a potentially useful starting point for further developing an evolutionary theory of consumer choice. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Jakob Kapeller & Bernhard Schütz & Stefan Steinerberger, 2013. "The impossibility of rational consumer choice," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 39-60, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:23:y:2013:i:1:p:39-60
    DOI: 10.1007/s00191-012-0268-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Simon, Herbert A, 1978. "Rationality as Process and as Product of Thought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 1-16, May.
    2. Richard Nelson & Davide Consoli, 2010. "An evolutionary theory of household consumption behavior," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(5), pages 665-687, October.
    3. Andreas Reinstaller & Bulat Sanditov, 2005. "Social structure and consumption: on the diffusion of consumer good innovation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 15(5), pages 505-531, November.
    4. J. Levin & L. Einav., 2012. "Empirical Industrial Organization: A Progress Report," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 1.
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    7. Sugden, Robert, 1991. "Rational Choice: A Survey of Contributions from Economics and Philosophy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 751-785, July.
    8. J.S. Metcalfe, 2001. "special issue: Consumption, preferences, and the evolutionary agenda," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 37-58.
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    11. Brian J. Loasby, 2001. "special issue: Cognition, imagination and institutions in demand creation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 7-21.
    12. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132-132.
    13. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1950. "A Difficulty in the Concept of Social Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58, pages 328-328.
    14. H. Leibenstein, 1950. "Bandwagon, Snob, and Veblen Effects in the Theory of Consumers' Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 183-207.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2013. "Material needs and aggregate demand," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 16-26.
    2. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2013. "Resource Return on Investment under Markup Pricing," MPRA Paper 49154, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Rengs, Bernhard & Scholz-Waeckerle, Manuel, 2017. "Consumption & Class in Evolutionary Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 80021, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Demand; Consumption; Rationality; Choice; Evolutionary economics; B52; D01; D11; D71;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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