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Variety Aversion and Information Overload: An Experimental Approach

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  • Karen Kaiser

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effect of information overload on preference or aversion for variety. According to the model, a rational decision maker who suffers from information overload, faces a two-stage decision process, and is choosing from a set of unknown goods will find it optimal at some point to become variety averse. To test this hypothesis, an experiment is conducted, and its results, that subjects suffering from information overload use variety aversion as a strategy to deal with their cognitive limitations, are consistent with the model. Moreover, results suggest that subjects are, on the average, choosing the optimal number of goods. As the price of the goods increases, subjects become more variety averse. In addition, as they become more experienced, they prefer larger sets of goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Kaiser, 2011. "Variety Aversion and Information Overload: An Experimental Approach," Working Papers 2011-01, Banco de México.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdm:wpaper:2011-01
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    File URL: http://www.banxico.org.mx/publicaciones-y-discursos/publicaciones/documentos-de-investigacion/banxico/%7B880F5DD7-D378-692E-945A-7313483BA70A%7D.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Herbert A. Simon, 1955. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 99-118.
    2. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes, 2006. "Cognition and Behavior in Two-Person Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1737-1768, December.
    3. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    4. Cecilia Chaing & Lindsay McSweeney, 2010. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 6.
    5. Jacoby, Jacob, 1984. " Perspectives on Information Overload," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 432-435, March.
    6. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2005. "Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000480, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
    8. Scammon, Debra L, 1977. " "Information Load" and Consumers," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 148-155, December.
    9. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, March.
    10. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ortoleva, Pietro, 2013. "The price of flexibility: Towards a theory of Thinking Aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 903-934.
    2. Kaiser Karen & Schwabe Rainer, 2012. "Preference for Variety," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-32, January.
    3. Kazuhiko Nishimura, 2013. "Quality Adjustment in Non-spanning Markets with Variety Aversion," Journal of Economic Structures, Springer;Pan-Pacific Association of Input-Output Studies (PAPAIOS), vol. 2(1), pages 1-18, December.
    4. Anna Conte & M. Levati, 2014. "Use of data on planned contributions and stated beliefs in the measurement of social preferences," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 76(2), pages 201-223, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Variety aversion; information overload; bounded rationality; decision making; laboratory experiment.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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