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Certainty and Overconfidence in Future Preferences for Food

Author

Listed:
  • Linda Thunström

    (HUI Research AB
    Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

  • Jonas Nordström

    (Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen
    Lund University School of Economics and Management)

  • Jason F. Shogren

    (Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming)

Abstract

We examine consumer certainty of future preferences and overconfidence in predicting future preferences. We explore how preference certainty and overconfidence impact the option value to revise today’s decisions in the future. We design a laboratory experiment that creates a controlled choice environment, in which a subject's choice set (over food snacks) is known and constant over time, and the time frame is short -- subjects make choices for themselves today, and for one to two weeks ahead. Our results suggest that even for such a seemingly straightforward choice task, only 45 percent of subjects can predict future choices accurately, while stated certainty of future preferences (one and two weeks ahead) is around 80 percent. We define overconfidence in predicting future preferences as: the difference between actual accuracy at predicting future choices and stated certainty of future preferences. Our results suggest strong evidence of overconfidence. We find that overconfidence increases with the level of stated certainty of future preferences. Finally, we observe that the option value people attach to future choice flexibility decreases with overconfidence. Overconfidence in future preferences affects economic welfare because it says people have too much incentive to lock themselves into future suboptimal decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Linda Thunström & Jonas Nordström & Jason F. Shogren, 2015. "Certainty and Overconfidence in Future Preferences for Food," IFRO Working Paper 2015/04, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:foi:wpaper:2015_04
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    Cited by:

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    2. Takunori Ishihara & Takanori Ida, 2022. "The Effect of Information Provision on Stated and Revealed Preferences: A Field Experiment on the Choice of Power Tariffs Before and After Japanese Retail Electricity Liberalization," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 82(3), pages 573-599, July.
    3. Michalis Skourtos & Dimitris Damigos & Areti Kontogianni & Christos Tourkolias & Alistair Hunt, 2019. "Embedding Preference Uncertainty for Environmental Amenities in Climate Change Economic Assessments: A “Random” Step Forward," Economies, MDPI, vol. 7(4), pages 1-22, October.
    4. Takunori ISHIHARA & Takanori IDA, 2019. "The Effect of Information Provision on Stated and Revealed Preferences:A Field Experiment on the Choice of Power Tariffs Before and After Japanese Retail Electricity Liberalization," Discussion papers e-19-006, Graduate School of Economics , Kyoto University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Choice flexibility; Preference uncertainty; Overconfidence; Sub-optimal decisions; Food;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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