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Measuring intertemporal preferences using response times

  • Christopher F. Chabris
  • David Laibson
  • Carrie L. Morris
  • Jonathon P. Schuldt
  • Dmitry Taubinsky

We use two different approaches to measure intertemporal preferences. First we employ the classical method of inferring preferences from a series of choices (subjects choose between $X now or $Y in D days). Second we adopt the novel approach of inferring preferences using only response time data from the same choices (how long it takes subjects to choose between $X now or $Y in D days). In principle, the inference from response times should work, since choices between items of nearly equivalent value should take longer than choices between items with substantially different values. We find that choice-based analysis and response-time-based analysis yield nearly identical discount rate estimates. We conclude that response time data sheds light on both our revealed (choice-based) preferences and on the cognitive processes that implement those preferences.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14353.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14353.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14353
Note: HE LS PE
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  1. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
  2. Ariel Rubinstein, 2006. "Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: A Study of Response Times," Working Papers 2006.36, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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