Preference for Flexibility and the Opportunities of Choice
A decision-maker exhibits preference for flexibility if he always prefers any set of alternatives to its subsets, even when two of them contain the same best element. Desire for flexibility can be explained as the consequence of the agent's uncertainty along a two-stage process, where he must first preselect a subset of alternatives from which to make a final choice later on. We investigate conditions on the rankings of subsets that are compatible with the following assumptions: (1) the agent is endowed with a VN-M utility function of alternatives, (2) the agent attaches a subjective probability to the survival of each subset of alternatives, and (3) the agent will make a best choice out of any set which becomes available, and ranks sets ex-ante in terms of the expected utility of the best choices within them. We first prove that any total ordering respecting set inclusion is rationalizable in these terms. This result is essentially the same obtained by Kreps (1979) under an alternative interpretation. We also show that we cannot learn anything about the underlying utilities of agents unless we impose further restrictions on the admissible distributions of survival probabilities. Then we investigate the additional consequences of assuming that the survival probabilities of individual alternatives are independently distributed. We prove that this reduces significantly the class of set rankings which can be rationalized and that then one can infer some of the characteristics of the agentís preferences. We offer a full characterization for the case of three alternatives. We also provide necessary conditions for rationalizability in the general case.
|Date of creation:||01 Jan 2003|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 08193, Bellaterra, Barcelona|
Phone: 34 93 592 1203
Fax: +34 93 542-1223
Web page: http://pareto.uab.cat
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sen, Amartya, 1988. "Freedom of choice : Concept and content," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 269-294, March.
- Sen, Amartya, 1991. "Welfare, preference and freedom," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 15-29, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:598.03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Xavier Vila)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.