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A theory of reference-dependent behavior

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Abstract

Extensive field and experimental evidence in a variety of environments show that behavior depends on a reference point. This paper provides an axiomatic characterization of this dependence. We proceed by imposing gradually more structure on both choice correspondences and preference relations, requiring increasingly higher levels of rationality, and freeing the decision-maker from certain types of inconsistencies. The appropriate degree of behavioral structure will depend on the phenomenon that is to be modeled. Lastly, we provide two applications of our work: one to model the status-quo bias, and another to model addictive behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose Apesteguia & Miguel A. Ballester, 2007. "A theory of reference-dependent behavior," Economics Working Papers 1056, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1056
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    Keywords

    Individual rationality; reference-dependence; rationalization; path independence; status-quo bias; addiction; habit formation; LeeX;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory

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