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Tom Sawyer and the construction of value

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  • Dan Ariely
  • George Loewenstein
  • Drazen Prelec

Abstract

This paper challenges the common assumption that economic agents know their tastes. After reviewing previous research showing that valuation of ordinary products and experiences can be manipulated by non-normative cues, we present three studies showing that in some cases people do not even have a pre-existing sense of whether an experience is good or bad ? even when they have experienced a sample of it.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2005. "Tom Sawyer and the construction of value," Working Papers 05-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:05-10
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana & Schkade, David A, 1999. "Economic Preferences or Attitude Expressions?: An Analysis of Dollar Responses to Public Issues," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 203-235, December.
    2. Craig R. Fox & Amos Tversky, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603.
    3. Shiller, Robert J., 1999. "Human behavior and the efficiency of the financial system," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 20, pages 1305-1340, Elsevier.
    4. Keren, Gideon B. & Raaijmakers, Jeroen G. W., 1988. "On between-subjects versus within-subjects comparisons in testing utility theory," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 233-247, April.
    5. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-193, Fall.
    6. Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Does the Stock Market Rationally Reflect Fundamental Values?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 591-601, July.
    7. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-106.
    8. Eric J. Johnson & David A. Schkade, 1989. "Bias in Utility Assessments: Further Evidence and Explanations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(4), pages 406-424, April.
    9. Chapman, Gretchen B. & Johnson, Eric J., 1999. "Anchoring, Activation, and the Construction of Values, , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 115-153, August.
    10. Cass R. Sunstein & Daniel Kahneman & David Schkade & Ilana Ritov, 2001. "Predictably Incoherent Judgements," Discussion Paper Series dp273, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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