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Neural Activity Reveals Preferences Without Choices

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alec Smith & B. Douglas Bernheim & Colin Camerer & Antonio Rangel, 2013. "Neural Activity Reveals Preferences Without Choices," NBER Working Papers 19270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19270
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    Cited by:

    1. Fadong Chen & Urs Fischbacher, 2016. "Response time and click position: cheap indicators of preferences," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 109-126, November.
    2. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi & Van Rooij, Maarten, 2017. "Asymmetric Consumption Effects of Transitory Income Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 12025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Krajbich, Ian & Camerer, Colin & Rangel, Antonio, 2017. "Exploring the scope of neurometrically informed mechanism design," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 49-62.
    4. Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2017. "Reported Preference vs. Revealed Preference: Evidence from the Propensity to Spend Tax Rebates," NBER Working Papers 23920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lusk, Jayson L. & Crespi, John M. & McFadden, Brandon R. & Cherry, J. Bradley C. & Martin, Laura & Bruce, Amanda, 2016. "Neural antecedents of a random utility model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 93-103.
    6. repec:eee:jeborg:v:148:y:2018:i:c:p:344-375 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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