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The Price of Flexibility: Towards a Theory of Thinking Aversion

  • Ortoleva, Pietro

The goal of this paper is to model an agent who dislikes large choice sets because of the "cost of thinking" involved in choosing from them. We take as a primitive a preference relation over lotteries of menus and impose novel axioms that allow us to separately identify the genuine preference over the content of menus, and the cost of choosing from them. Using this, we formally define the notion of thinking aversion, much in line with the definitions of risk or ambiguity aversion. We represent such preference as the difference between a monotone and affine evaluation of the content of the set and an anticipated thinking cost function that assigns to each set a thinking cost. We further extend this characterization to the case of monotonicity of the genuine rank and introduce a measure of comparative thinking aversion. Finally, we propose behavioral axioms that guarantee that the cost of thinking can be represented as the sum of the cost to find the optimal choice in a set and the cost to find out which is the optimal choice.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12242.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12242
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  1. Eddie Dekel & Barton Lipman & Aldo Rustichini, 2006. "Temptation–Driven Preferences," Discussion Papers 1423, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Eddie Dekel, 1997. "A Unique Subjective State Space for Unforeseen Contingencies," Discussion Papers 1202, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Inattentive Consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 5053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Sabourian, Hamid, 2004. "Bargaining and markets: complexity and the competitive outcome," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 116(2), pages 189-228, June.
  5. Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman & Aldo Rustichini, 1998. "Standard State-Space Models Preclude Unawareness," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 159-174, January.
  6. Osborne, M-J & Rubinstein, A, 1997. "Games with Procedurally Rational Players," Papers 4-97, Tel Aviv.
  7. Kalai, Ehud & Stanford, William, 1988. "Finite Rationality and Interpersonal Complexity in Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 397-410, March.
  8. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, 03.
  9. Eddie Dekel & Barton L Lipman & Aldo Rustichini & Todd Sarver, 2007. "Representing Preferences with a Unique Subjective State Space: A Corrigendum -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 591-600, 03.
  10. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1989. "A Bounded-Rationality Approach to the Study of Noncooperative Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 273-91.
  11. Emir Kamenica, 2008. "Contextual Inference in Markets: On the Informational Content of Product Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2127-49, December.
  12. Haluk Ergin & Todd Sarver, 2010. "A Unique Costly Contemplation Representation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1285-1339, 07.
  13. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  14. Epstein, Larry G. & Marinacci, Massimo & Seo, Kyoungwon, 2007. "Coarse contingencies and ambiguity," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(4), December.
  15. Ghirardato, Paolo & Marinacci, Massimo, 2002. "Ambiguity Made Precise: A Comparative Foundation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 251-289, February.
  16. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  17. Douglas Gale & Hamid Sabourian, 2005. "Complexity and Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 739-769, 05.
  18. Colin F. Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho & Juin-Kuan Chong, 2004. "A Cognitive Hierarchy Model of Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 861-898, August.
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