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Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice

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Several recent models of choice build on the idea that decision makers are more likely to choose an option if its attributes stand out compared to the attributes of the available alternatives. One example is the model of focusing by Köszegi and Szeidl (2013) where decision makers focus disproportionally on the attributes in which the available options differ more, implying that some attributes will be overweighted. We test this prediction in a controlled experiment. We find that subjects are more likely to make inconsistent choices when we manipulate the choice set by adding new options that are unchosen, but affect the maximal difference in attributes among the options. Hence, our results suggest that there exists a focusing effect.

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  • Andersson, Ola & Ingebretsen Carlson, Jim & Wengström, Erik, 2016. "Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice," Working Papers 2016:15, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2016_015
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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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