IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Simple Impossibility Result in Behavioral Contract Theory



The paper analyses, within a moral hazard scenario, a contract between an agent with anticipatory emotions and a principal who responds strategically to those emotions. The agent receives a private signal on the profitability of the task he was hired for. If the signal is informative about the return from effort, the agent would benefit from knowing accurate news. However, if the agent derives utility from the anticipation of his final payoff, the suppression of a bad signal may induce a positive interim emotional effect. We show that it may be impossible to achieve the first-best, even though the risk-neutral parties are symmetrically informed at the contracting stage and complete contracts can be written.

Suggested Citation

  • Annamaria Menichini & Giovanni Immordino & Maria Grazia Romano, 2010. "A Simple Impossibility Result in Behavioral Contract Theory," CSEF Working Papers 262, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:262

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
    2. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    3. Kuznitz, Arik & Kandel, Shmuel & Fos, Vyacheslav, 2008. "A portfolio choice model with utility from anticipation of future consumption and stock market mean reversion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1338-1352, November.
    4. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
    5. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2004. "The supply of information by a concerned expert," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 487-505, July.
    6. Caplin, Andrew & Eliaz, Kfir, 2003. " AIDS Policy and Psychology: A Mechanism-Design Approach," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(4), pages 631-646, Winter.
    7. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-684, September.
    8. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79.
    9. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
    10. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Hidden action; anticipatory utility.;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:sef:csefwp:262. 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: (Lia Ambrosio). General contact details of provider: .

    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.