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Limited Attention and Choice


  • Karen Kaiser


This paper analyzes a boundedly rational decision maker who is uncertain about his preference and faces the following trade-off: adding a good to the choice set has a positive option value but increases the complexity of the choice problem. The increased complexity is modeled as a reduction of the information available for each good. Because of this trade-off there is an optimal number of goods that the decision maker wants to analyze before making his final choice. The choice of the optimal set can be interpreted as the choice among stores. Stores maximize profits and choose a quality, an assortment, and a price. A lower cost of providing quality implies higher price and higher quality. Assortment will be small for very high levels of quality. Better quality of information implies greater variety and higher price. Greater variety combined with good consumer service can be a signal for high quality of the store.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Kaiser, 2010. "Limited Attention and Choice," Working Papers 2010-02, Banco de México.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdm:wpaper:2010-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hauser, John R & Wernerfelt, Birger, 1990. " An Evaluation Cost Model of Consideration Sets," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 393-408, March.
    2. Jacoby, Jacob & Speller, Donald E & Berning, Carol A Kohn, 1974. " Brand Choice Behavior as a Function of Information Load: Replication and Extension," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 33-42, June.
    3. Gabaix, Xavier & Laibson, David Isaac & Moloche, Guillermo & Stephen, Weinberg, 2003. "The allocation of attention: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 47339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item


    Decision making; Bounded rationality; Choice set; Stores; Quality.;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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