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Rational indecisive choice


  • Gerasimou, Georgios


This paper proposes and characterises two preference-based choice rules that allow the decision maker to choose nothing if the criteria associated with them are satisfied by no feasible alternative. Strict preferences are primitive in the first rule and weak preferences in the second. Each of them includes the corresponding utility-maximisation theory of rational choice as a special case. The first one explains changes in the magnitude of context effects observed in experiments that allow for indecision. The second offers one explanation of experimental findings suggesting that choice is more likely to be made from small rather than from large sets. The general conclusion in both cases is that an individual conforms to meaningful and testable principles of choice consistency whenever assumed to be occasionally indecisive.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerasimou, Georgios, 2010. "Rational indecisive choice," MPRA Paper 25481, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25481

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simonson, Itamar, 1989. " Choice Based on Reasons: The Case of Attraction and Compromise Effects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 158-174, September.
    2. Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
    3. Mandler, Michael, 2009. "Indifference and incompleteness distinguished by rational trade," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 300-314, September.
    4. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "Social Choice Theory: A Re-examination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 53-89, January.
    5. Eric Danan, 2010. "Randomization vs. Selection: How to Choose in the Absence of Preference?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(3), pages 503-518, March.
    6. Mandler, Michael, 2005. "Incomplete preferences and rational intransitivity of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 255-277, February.
    7. Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2007. "Sequentially Rationalizable Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1824-1839, December.
    8. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
    9. Eliaz, Kfir & Ok, Efe A., 2006. "Indifference or indecisiveness? Choice-theoretic foundations of incomplete preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-86, July.
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    More about this item


    Rationality; indecision; incomplete preferences; choice rules;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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