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Where do preferences come from?

  • Franz Dietrich
  • Christian List

Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Instead, pref- erences are usually assumed to be �xed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice (Dietrich and List forthcoming), we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain motivationally salientproperties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new properties of the alternatives become salient or previously salient ones cease to be so. We suggest that our approach captures endogenous preferences in various contexts, and helps to illuminate the distinction between formal and substantive concepts of rationality, as well as the role of perception in rational choice.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 661465000000001137.

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Date of creation: 20 Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:661465000000001137
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  1. Natalie Gold & Christian List, 2002. "Framing as Path-Dependence," Economics Series Working Papers 124, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
  3. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "A reason-based theory of rational choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00978002, HAL.
  4. Dietrich, Franz, 2008. "Anti-terrorism politics and the risk of provoking," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  5. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  6. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
  7. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2009. "A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000297, David K. Levine.
  8. Rajiv Sethi & E. Somanathan, 1999. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Game Theory and Information 9903001, EconWPA, revised 12 Mar 1999.
  9. Michael Bacharach, 2006. "The Hi-Lo Paradox, from Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory
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    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  10. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
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  12. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
  13. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  14. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  15. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  16. Robert Sugden, 2005. "Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-118.
  17. Peter J. Hammond, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 159-173.
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