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Smokers’ Rational Lexicographic Preferences for Cigarette Package Warnings: A Discrete Choice Experiment with Eye Tracking

Author

Listed:
  • Jeffrey E. Harris

    () (Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Mariana Gerstenblüth

    () (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)

  • Patricia Triunfo

    () (Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)

Abstract

We asked 97 cigarette smokers to make a series of 12 binary choices between experimental cigarette packages with varying warnings and background colors. Each smoker had to decide which of the two packages contained cigarettes less risky for his health. We tested whether the smokers, confronted with warnings that were repugnant and threatening to many of them, could still make choices that adhered to the standard axioms of rational choice. We supplemented our observations on smokers’ choices with data on their eye movements. We find that participants universally made choices consistent with a complete, transitive preference ordering. We find little evidence of inconsistent choices violating the weak axiom of revealed preference. In a majority of smokers, we find strong evidence of the use of a lexicographic decision rule to assess the riskiness of a cigarette package. These smokers first ranked the two packages solely on the basis of their warnings. Only when the two packages had the same warning did they rankthe packages on the basis of their color. The data on eye tracking strongly confirmed the lexicographic nature of the underlying decision rule. Our studyrepresentsan entirely different angle of inquiry into thequestion of rational addiction.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey E. Harris & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Patricia Triunfo, 2018. "Smokers’ Rational Lexicographic Preferences for Cigarette Package Warnings: A Discrete Choice Experiment with Eye Tracking," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0218, Department of Economics - dECON.
  • Handle: RePEc:ude:wpaper:0218
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    addiction; cigarettes; smoking; health warnings; rationality; discrete choice experiment; eye tracking; transitivity; additive utility; lexicographic preferences; context-dependent preferences; response time; drift diffusion model; Schelling-Thaler-Shefrin dual-self model;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

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