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Economic rationality under cognitive load

Author

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  • Andreas Drichoutis

    () (Agricultural University of Athens)

  • Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr.

    () (Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, University of Arkansas,)

Abstract

Economic analysis assumes that consumer behavior can be rationalized by a utility function. Previous research has shown that some decision-making quality can be captured by permanent cognitive ability but has not examined how a temporary load in subjects' working memory can a ect economic rationality. In a controlled laboratory experiment, we exogenously vary cognitive load by asking subjects to memorize a number while they undertake an induced budget allocation task (Choi et al., 2007a,b). Using a number of manipulation checks, we verify that cognitive load has adverse a ects on subjects' performance in reasoning tasks. However, we nd no e ect in any of the goodness-of- t measures that measure consistency of subjects' choices with the Generalized Axiom of Revealed Preferences (GARP), despite having a sample size large enough to detect even small di erences between treatments with 80% power. Our nding suggests that researchers need not worry about economic rationality breaking down when subjects are placed under temporary working memory load.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Drichoutis & Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr., 2017. "Economic rationality under cognitive load," Working Papers 2017-2, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:aua:wpaper:2017-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lau Lilleholt, 2019. "Cognitive ability and risk aversion: A systematic review and meta analysis," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14(3), pages 234-279, May.
    2. Cettolin, Elena & Dalton, Patricio & Kop, Willem & Zhang, Wanqing, 2018. "Cortisol meets GARP : The Effect of Stress on Economic Rationality," Discussion Paper 2018-045, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Andreas, Drichoutis & Rodolfo, Nayga, 2019. "Game form recognition in preference elicitation, cognitive abilities and cognitive load," MPRA Paper 97980, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 06 Jan 2020.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive load; rationality; revealed preferences; working memory; response times; laboratory experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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