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States of Nature and States of Mind: A Generalised Theory of Decision-Making, evaluated by application to Human Capital Development

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  • Iain Embrey

Abstract

Canonical economic agents act so as to maximise a single, representative, utility function. However there is accumulating evidence that heterogeneity in thought-processes may be an important determinant of individual behaviour. This paper investigates the implications of a vector-valued generalisation of the Expected Utility paradigm, which permits agents either to deliberate as per Homo-economics, or to act impulsively. That generalised decision theory is applied to explain irrational educational investment decisions, persistent social inequalities, the crowding-out effect, the pervasive influence of non-cognitive ability on socio-economic outcomes, and the dynamic relationships between non-cognitive ability, cognitive ability, and behavioural biases. These results suggest that the generalised decision theory warrants further investigation.

Suggested Citation

  • Iain Embrey, 2017. "States of Nature and States of Mind: A Generalised Theory of Decision-Making, evaluated by application to Human Capital Development," Working Papers 209919485, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:lan:wpaper:209919485
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    File URL: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lums/economics/working-papers/LancasterWP2017_032.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Decision Theory; Dual-Self; Behavioural Anomalies; Human Capital; Social Exclusion; Unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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