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A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change

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  • Franz Dietrich
  • Christian List

Abstract

According to standard rational choice theory, as commonly used in political science and economics, an agent's fundamental preferences are exogenously fixed, and any preference change over decision options is due to Bayesian information learning. Although elegant and parsimonious, such a model fails to account for preference change driven by experiences or psychological changes distinct from information learning. We develop a model of non-informational preference change. Alternatives are modelled as points in some multidimensional space, only some of whose dimensions play a role in shaping the agent's preferences. Any change in these 'motivationally salient' dimensions can change the agent's preferences. How it does so is described by a new representation theorem. Our model not only captures a wide range of frequently observed phenomena, but also generalizes some standard representations of preferences in political science and economics.
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  • Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2009. "A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000297, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:814577000000000297
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dryzek, John S., 1992. "How Far is it from Virginia and Rochester to Frankfurt? Public Choice as Critical Theory," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(04), pages 397-417, October.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:02:p:245-260_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dietrich, Franz, 2012. "Modelling change in individual characteristics: An axiomatic framework," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 471-494.
    4. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    5. R. H. Strotz, 1955. "Myopia and Inconsistency in Dynamic Utility Maximization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 165-180.
    6. 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.
    7. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2001. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 273-297, April.
    8. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    9. Peter J. Hammond, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 159-173.
    10. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    11. Gerard Debreu, 1959. "Topological Methods in Cardinal Utility Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 76, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "Where do preferences come from?," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 42(3), pages 613-637, August.
    2. Mukand, Sharun W. & Rodrik, Dani, 2018. "The Political Economy of Ideas," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1163, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    3. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    4. repec:hal:journl:halshs-01249514 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mukand, Sharun & Rodrik, Dani, 2018. "The Political Economy of Ideas: On Ideas versus Interests in Policymaking," CEPR Discussion Papers 12820, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Dietrich, Franz & List, Christian, 2016. "Reason-Based Choice And Context-Dependence: An Explanatory Framework," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(02), pages 175-229, July.
    7. Acharya, Avidit & Blackwell, Matthew & Sen, Maya, 2015. "Explaining Attitudes from Behavior: A Cognitive Dissonance Approach," Working Paper Series rwp15-026, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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