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Where do preferences come from?

  • Dietrich, Franz
  • List, Christian

Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Instead, pref- erences are usually assumed to be �xed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice (Dietrich and List forthcoming), we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain motivationally salientproperties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new properties of the alternatives become salient or previously salient ones cease to be so. We suggest that our approach captures endogenous preferences in various contexts, and helps to illuminate the distinction between formal and substantive concepts of rationality, as well as the role of perception in rational choice.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 36115.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision: 2011
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36115
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  1. Dietrich Franz & List Christian, 2009. "A Model of Non-Informational Preference Change," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  2. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Rajiv Sethi & E. Somanathan, 1999. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Game Theory and Information 9903001, EconWPA, revised 12 Mar 1999.
  5. Gold, Natalie & List, Christian, 2004. "Framing as Path Dependence," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(02), pages 253-277, October.
  6. Eddie Dekel & Jeffrey C. Ely & Okan Yilankaya, 2007. "Evolution of Preferences -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 685-704.
  7. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  8. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
  9. Michael Bacharach, 2006. "The Hi-Lo Paradox, from Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory," Introductory Chapters, in: Natalie Gold & Robert Sugden (ed.), Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory Princeton University Press.
  10. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "A reason-based theory of rational choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00978002, HAL.
  11. Dietrich, Franz, 2008. "Anti-terrorism politics and the risk of provoking," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  12. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  13. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  14. Fehr, Ernst & Gachter, Simon, 1998. "Reciprocity and economics: The economic implications of Homo Reciprocans1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 845-859, May.
  15. Dekel, Eddie & Ely, Jeffrey & Yilankaya, Okan, 2004. "Evolution of Preferences," Microeconomics.ca working papers dekel-04-08-13-01-21-07, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 09 Jun 2006.
  16. Peter J. Hammond, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 159-173.
  17. Robert Sugden, 2005. "Why rationality is not a consequence of Hume's theory of choice," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 113-118.
  18. R. H. Strotz, 1955. "Myopia and Inconsistency in Dynamic Utility Maximization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 165-180.
  19. Dryzek, John S. & List, Christian, 2003. "Social Choice Theory and Deliberative Democracy: A Reconciliation," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 1-28, January.
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