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Addiction and Cue-Conditioned Cognitive Processes

  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Antonio Rangel

We propose an economic theory of addiction based on the premise that cognitive mechanisms such as attention affect behavior independently of preferences. We argue that the theory is consistent with foundational evidence (e.g. from neurosciencee and psychology) concerning the nature of decision-making and addiction. The model is analytically tractable, and it accounts for a broad range of stylized facts concerning addiction. It also generates a plausible qualitative mapping from the characteristics of substances into consumption patterns, thereby providing a basis for empirical tests. Finally, the theory provides a clear standard for evaluating social welfare, and it has a number of striking policy implications.

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Paper provided by www.najecon.org in its series NajEcon Working Paper Reviews with number 666156000000000052.

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Date of creation: 14 Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cla:najeco:666156000000000052
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.najecon.org/

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  1. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  2. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Addiction and Present-Biased Preferences," Game Theory and Information 0303005, EconWPA.
  3. Loewenstein, George & O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5qh6142m, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Frank J. Chaloupka & Kenneth E. Warner, 1999. "The Economics of Smoking," NBER Working Papers 7047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1995. "The Economic Case against Drug Prohibition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 175-192, Fall.
  7. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  8. Athanasios Orphanides & David Zervos, 1992. "Rational addiction with learning and regret," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 216, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
  10. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
  11. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  12. Laibson, David I., 2000. "A Cue-Theory of Consumption," Scholarly Articles 4481496, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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