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Identity and the Dynamics of Preferences

Some recent economic contributions have studied individual identity in terms of explicit choices and social categories to which a person belongs to. According to Social Psychology, identity is also the result of a process influenced by self-regulation mechanisms. We model endogenous identity-dependent preferences as the dynamic result of two mechanisms: environmental pressure and the persistent effect of past socialization in the adaptation to new environments We apply this model to environments where the agent must trade-off conflicting utility functions, such as material and non-material pay-offs, or self-interest and other-regarding preferences. The model shows that heterogeneity in individual preferences, besides being the result of socialization, cultural transmission and environmental incentives, critically hinges on the feed-back of behaviour on preferences.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number 595.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:595
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