The Evolution of Decision and Experienced Utilities
Psychologists report that people make choices on the basis of "decision utilities" that routinely overestimate the "experienced utility" consequences of these choices. This paper argues that this dichotomy between decision and experienced utilities may be the solution to an evolutionary design problem. We examine a setting in which evolution designs agents with utility functions that must mediate intertemporal choices, and in which there is an incentive to condition current utilities on the agent's previous experience. Anticipating future utility adjustments can distort intertemporal incentives, a conflict that is attenuated by separating decision and experienced utilities.
|Date of creation:||Oct 2008|
|Date of revision:||Feb 2010|
|Publication status:||Published in Theoretical Economics (September 2011), 6(3): 311-339|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA|
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|Order Information:|| Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA|
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