IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/stabus/2029.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On the Heritability of Choice, Judgment, and "Irrationality": Genetic Effects on Prudence and Constructive Predispositions

Author

Listed:
  • Simonson, Itamar

    (Stanford University)

  • Sela, Aner

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

Despite the very long history of research on heritable traits, we still know very little about genetic effects on judgment and choice, including consumer decision making. Building on recent advances in epigenetics, we hypothesize that people inherit a general prudence tendency, which affects their predisposition to choose options that vary on the prudence dimension. We use a classic twins study design whereby greater similarity between monozygotic twins than between dizygotic twins indicates a heritable trait. Unlike most prior studies that have focused on one or few characteristics, our study examines a broad range of judgment and choice phenomena simultaneously in order to gain insights into heritable tendencies (representing individual differences) and nonheritable tendencies. Consistent with our "prudence hypothesis," we find a significant heritable effect on (a) preferences for compromise (but not perceptually dominating) options, (b) choosing a sure gain over a gamble, (c) preferences for a feasible though dull assignment (in the near distance), (d) maximizing (versus satisficing), and (e) preferences for utilitarian (versus hedonic) options. Conversely, non-prudence problems (e.g., relating to discounting, highlighting, variety) as well as judgment heuristics (availability, representativeness, anchoring) do not appear to reflect heritable individual differences. We discuss the implications of our research with respect to the determinants of preferences, the interpretation of rationality and of BDT effects, the notion of constructive predispositions, and directions for future research regarding the role of genetics in decision making.

Suggested Citation

  • Simonson, Itamar & Sela, Aner, 2009. "On the Heritability of Choice, Judgment, and "Irrationality": Genetic Effects on Prudence and Constructive Predispositions," Research Papers 2029, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2029
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2029.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2029. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/gsstaus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.