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Neural Activity Reveals Preferences Without Choices

  • Alec Smith
  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Colin Camerer
  • Antonio Rangel

We investigate the feasibility of inferring the choices people would make (if given the opportunity) based on their neural responses to the pertinent prospects when they are not engaged in actual decision making. The ability to make such inferences is of potential value when choice data are unavailable, or limited in ways that render standard methods of estimating choice mappings problematic. We formulate prediction models relating choices to "non-choice" neural responses and use them to predict out-of-sample choices for new items and for new groups of individuals. The predictions are sufficiently accurate to establish the feasibility of our approach.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19270.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Publication status: published as Alec Smith & B. Douglas Bernheim & Colin F. Camerer & Antonio Rangel, 2014. "Neural Activity Reveals Preferences without Choices," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 1-36, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19270
Note: PE
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