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A Theory of Reference-Dependent Behavior

  • Jose Apesteguia
  • Miguel Angel Ballester

Extensive field and experimental evidence in a variety of environments show that behavior depends on a reference point. This paper provides an axiomatic characterization of this dependence. We proceed by imposing gradually more structure on both choice correspondences and preference relations, requiring increasingly higher levels of rationality, and freeing the decision-maker from certain types of inconsistencies. The appropriate degree of behavioral structure will depend on the phenomenon that is to be modeled. Lastly, we provide two applications of our work: one to model the status-quo bias, and another to model addictive behavior.

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File URL: http://www.barcelonagse.eu/sites/default/files/working_paper_pdfs/323.pdf
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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 323.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:323
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  1. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  3. Bossert, W. & Sprumont, Y., 2001. "Non-Deteriorating Choice," Cahiers de recherche 2001-01, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  4. Jack L. Knetsch & J. A. Sinden, 1984. "Willingness to Pay and Compensation Demanded: Experimental Evidence of an Unexpected Disparity in Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 507-521.
  5. Steffen Huck & Georg Kirchsteiger & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning to Like What You Have - Explaining the Endowment Effect," Game Theory and Information 9702001, EconWPA, revised 15 May 1997.
  6. Munro, Alistair & Sugden, Robert, 2003. "On the theory of reference-dependent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 407-428, April.
  7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  8. Mandler, Michael, 2005. "Incomplete preferences and rational intransitivity of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 255-277, February.
  9. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  10. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  11. Ian Bateman & Alistair Munro & Bruce Rhodes & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 1997. "A Test of the Theory of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 479-505.
  12. Sagi, Jacob S., 2006. "Anchored preference relations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 283-295, September.
  13. Pollak, Robert A, 1970. "Habit Formation and Dynamic Demand Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(4), pages 745-63, Part I Ju.
  14. Tversky, Amos & Slovic, Paul & Kahneman, Daniel, 1990. "The Causes of Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 204-17, March.
  15. Raphaël Giraud, 2012. "Money matters: an axiomatic theory of the endowment effect," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 50(2), pages 303-339, June.
  16. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  17. Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
  18. Rubinstein, Ariel & Zhou, Lin, 1999. "Choice problems with a 'reference' point," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 205-209, May.
  19. Sugden, Robert, 2003. "Reference-dependent subjective expected utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 172-191, August.
  20. Raphaël Giraud, 2004. "Reference-dependent preferences : rationality, mechanism and welfare implications," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v04087, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  21. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
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