IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/san/wpecon/1314.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Complexity and Bounded Rationality in Individual Decision Problems

Author

Listed:
  • Theodoros M. Diasakos

    () (University of St Andrews)

Abstract

I develop a model of endogenous bounded rationality due to search costs, arising implicitly from the problem's complexity. The decision maker is not required to know the entire structure of the problem when making choices but can think ahead, through costly search, to reveal more of it. However, the costs of search are not assumed exogenously; they are inferred from revealed preferences through her choices. Thus, bounded rationality and its extent emerge endogenously: as problems become simpler or as the benefits of deeper search become larger relative to its costs, the choices more closely resemble those of a rational agent. For a fixed decision problem, the costs of search will vary across agents. For a given decision maker, they will vary across problems. The model explains, therefore, why the disparity, between observed choices and those prescribed under rationality, varies across agents and problems. It also suggests, under reasonable assumptions, an identifying prediction: a relation between the benefits of deeper search and the depth of the search. As long as calibration of the search costs is possible, this can be tested on any agent-problem pair. My approach provides a common framework for depicting the underlying limitations that force departures from rationality in different and unrelated decision-making situations. Specifically, I show that it is consistent with violations of timing independence in temporal framing problems, dynamic inconsistency and diversification bias in sequential versus simultaneous choice problems, and with plausible but contrasting risk attitudes across small- and large-stakes gambles.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodoros M. Diasakos, 2013. "Complexity and Bounded Rationality in Individual Decision Problems," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201314, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
  • Handle: RePEc:san:wpecon:1314
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~wwwecon/repecfiles/4/1314.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. R. A. Pollak, 1968. "Consistent Planning," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 201-208.
    3. Philippe Jehiel, 2001. "Limited Foresight May Force Cooperation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 369-391.
    4. John D. Hey, 2005. "Do People (Want To) Plan?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(1), pages 122-138, February.
    5. Binmore, Ken & McCarthy, John & Ponti, Giovanni & Samuelson, Larry & Shaked, Avner, 2002. "A Backward Induction Experiment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 48-88, May.
    6. Segal, Uzi, 1987. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 175-202, February.
    7. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877.
    8. Kalai, Ehud & Stanford, William, 1988. "Finite Rationality and Interpersonal Complexity in Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 397-410, March.
    9. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson & Guillermo Moloche & Stephen Weinberg, 2006. "Costly Information Acquisition: Experimental Analysis of a Boundedly Rational Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1043-1068, September.
    10. Enrica Carbone & John Hey, 2001. "A Test of the Principle of Optimality," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 263-281, May.
    11. Steven M. Goldman, 1980. "Consistent Plans," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 533-537.
    12. John Hey & Jinkwon Lee, 2005. "Do Subjects Separate (or Are They Sophisticated)?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 8(3), pages 233-265, September.
    13. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    14. Matthew Rabin & Richard H. Thaler, 2001. "Anomalies: Risk Aversion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 219-232, Winter.
    15. Karni, Edi & Safra, Zvi, 1990. "Behaviorally consistent optimal stopping rules," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 391-402, August.
    16. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    17. Lee, Jihong & Sabourian, Hamid, 2007. "Coase theorem, complexity and transaction costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 214-235, July.
    18. Douglas Gale & Hamid Sabourian, 2005. "Complexity and Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 739-769, May.
    19. Cubitt, Robin P & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1998. "Dynamic Choice and the Common Ratio Effect: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1362-1380, September.
    20. Eliaz, Kfir, 2003. "Nash equilibrium when players account for the complexity of their forecasts," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 286-310, August.
    21. Read, Daniel & Loewenstein, George & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Choice Bracketing," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 171-197, December.
    22. Kalyan Chatterjee & Hamid Sabourian, 2000. "Multiperson Bargaining and Strategic Complexity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1491-1510, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Marco Mantovani, 2015. "Limited backward induction: foresight and behavior in sequential games," Working Papers 289, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2015.
    2. Yilmaz Kocer, 2010. "Endogenous Learning with Bounded Memory," Working Papers 1290, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Econometric Research Program..

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:san:wpecon:1314. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (the School of Economics). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/destauk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.