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Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice

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  • Andersson, Ola

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Ingebretsen Carlson, Jim

    (Department of Economics)

  • Wengström, Erik

    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

Several recent behavioral models of choice build on the idea that decision makers put more weight on attributes in which the available options differ more. We test this assumption in a controlled experiment where such biases will generate choice inconsistencies. As hypothesized, we find that subjects make more inconsistent choices when we add new options that affect the maximal difference in attributes among the options. Our findings suggest that the decision maker's focus is drawn to attributes that stand out. We also test the focusing effect against theories of decoy effects (asymmetric dominance), but we find that the focus effect dominates.

Suggested Citation

  • Andersson, Ola & Ingebretsen Carlson, Jim & Wengström, Erik, 2016. "Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice," Working Paper Series 1145, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1145
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    Cited by:

    1. Castillo, Geoffrey, 2020. "The attraction effect and its explanations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 123-147.
    2. Ola Andersson & Lif Nelander, 2021. "Nudge the Lunch: A Field Experiment Testing Menu-Primacy Effects on Lunch Choices," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-19, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Individual decision making; Focus; Attention; Salience; Decoy; Experiments;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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