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Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility

  • Loewenstein, George

    (Carnegie Mellon U)

  • O'Donoghue, Ted

    (Cornell U)

  • Rabin, Matthew

    (U of California, Berkeley)

People exaggerate the degree to which their future tastes will resemble their current tastes. We present evidence from a variety of domains which demonstrates the prevalence of such projection bias, develop a formal model of it, and use this model to demonstrate its importance in economic environments. Projection bias leads people to overvalue reference-dependent goods and magnifies the endowment effect. It can cause misguided purchases of durable goods. When there is habit formation, projection bias can lead people to consume too much early in life, and to decide, as time passes, to consume more--and save less--than originally planned.

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Paper provided by Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics in its series Working Papers with number 02-11.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:02-11
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  1. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Read, Daniel & van Leeuwen, Barbara, 1998. "Predicting Hunger: The Effects of Appetite and Delay on Choice, , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 189-205, November.
  4. Loewenstein, George & Adler, Daniel, 1995. "A Bias in the Prediction of Tastes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 929-37, July.
  5. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
  6. Orphanides, Athanasios & Zervos, David, 1995. "Rational Addiction with Learning and Regret," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 739-58, August.
  7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  8. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
  9. Pollak, Robert A, 1970. "Habit Formation and Dynamic Demand Functions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(4), pages 745-63, Part I Ju.
  10. Oswald, Andrew, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 478, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  13. David Bowman & Deborah Minehart & Matthew Rabin, 1994. "Loss aversion in a consumption/savings model," International Finance Discussion Papers 492, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  15. Strahilevitz, Michal A & Loewenstein, George, 1998. " The Effect of Ownership History on the Valuation of Objects," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(3), pages 276-89, December.
  16. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1997. "Incentives for Procrastinators," Discussion Papers 1181, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  17. Ryder, Harl E, Jr & Heal, Geoffrey M, 1973. "Optimum Growth with Intertemporally Dependent Preferences," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 1-33, January.
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