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When and how to satisfice: an experimental investigation

In: Experiments in Economics Decision Making and Markets

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  • John D. Hey
  • Yudistira Permana
  • Nuttaporn Rochanahastin

Abstract

This paper is about satisficing behaviour. Rather tautologically, this is when decision-makers are satisfied with achieving some objective, rather than in obtaining the best outcome. The term was coined by Simon (Q J Econ 69:99–118, 1955), and has stimulated many discussions and theories. Prominent amongst these theories are models of incomplete preferences, models of behaviour under ambiguity, theories of rational inattention, and search theories. Most of these, however, seem to lack an answer to at least one of two key questions: when should the decision-maker (DM) satisfice; and how should the DM satisfice. In a sense, search models answer the latter question (in that the theory tells the DM when to stop searching), but not the former; moreover, usually the question as to whether any search at all is justified is left to a footnote. A recent paper by Manski (Theory Decis. doi:10.1007/s11238-017-9592-1, 2017) fills the gaps in the literature and answers the questions: when and how to satisfice? He achieves this by setting the decision problem in an ambiguous situation (so that probabilities do not exist, and many preference functionals can therefore not be applied) and by using the Minimax Regret criterion as the preference functional. The results are simple and intuitive. This paper reports on an experimental test of his theory. The results show that some of his propositions (those relating to the ‘how’) appear to be empirically valid while others (those relating to the ‘when’) are less so.

Suggested Citation

  • John D. Hey & Yudistira Permana & Nuttaporn Rochanahastin, 2018. "When and how to satisfice: an experimental investigation," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Experiments in Economics Decision Making and Markets, chapter 5, pages 121-137, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  • Handle: RePEc:wsi:wschap:9789813235816_0005
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    2. Gilberto Tadeu Lima & Mark Setterfield & Jaylson Jair da Silveira, 2023. "Achieving two policy targets with one policy instrument: heterogeneous expectations, countercyclical fiscal policy, and macroeconomic stabilization at the effective lower bound," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2023_01, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
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    7. Chen, Si & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2018. "Looking at the bright side: The motivation value of overconfidence," DICE Discussion Papers 291, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    8. Horváth, Gergely, 2023. "Peer effects through receiving advice in job search: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 216(C), pages 494-519.
    9. Leonardo Barros Torres & Gilberto Tadeu Lima & Jaylson Jair da Silveira, 2024. "Endogenous Tax Compliance and Macroeconomic Performance Driven by Satisficing Evolutionary Dynamics," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2024_10, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experimental Economics; Risk; Ambiguity; Markets; Auctions; Bargaining; Econometrics; Methodology;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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