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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. R. H. Strotz, 1955. "Myopia and Inconsistency in Dynamic Utility Maximization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 165-180.
  2. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2013. "A reason-based theory of rational choice," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00978002, HAL.
  3. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  4. 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.
  5. Natalie Gold & Christian List, 2002. "Framing as Path-Dependence," Economics Series Working Papers 124, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. 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.
  11. Franz Dietrich & Christian List, 2011. "A model of non-informational preference change," Journal of Theoretical Politics, SAGE Publishing, vol. 23(2), pages 145-164, April.
  12. Franz Dietrich, 2014. "Anti-terrorism policies and the risk of provoking," Journal of Theoretical Politics, SAGE Publishing, vol. 26(3), pages 405-441, July.
  13. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2001. "Preference Evolution and Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 273-297, April.
  14. 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.
  15. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  16. Kelvin J. Lancaster, 1966. "A New Approach to Consumer Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 132.
  17. Peter J. Hammond, 1976. "Changing Tastes and Coherent Dynamic Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 159-173.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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