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Do Addicts Behave Rationally?

Author

Listed:
  • Ernst Fehr

    (University of Zuerich)

  • Peter K. Zych

    (Technical University of Vienna)

Abstract

The theory of rational addiction assumes that addicts' behavior is fully rational. Common sense and psychological introspection suggest, however, that addictive behavior is irrational. Without knowledge of the addicts' preferences this dispute cannot be resolved. This paper reports the results of an experiment in which addictive preferences were induced. It turns out that 'addicts' consume systematically too much compared to the optimal consumption decision. The authors explain this systematic excess consumption in terms of the psychologically salient features of addictive goods. Copyright 1998 by The editors of the Scandinavian Journal of Economics.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ernst Fehr & Peter K. Zych, 2003. "Do Addicts Behave Rationally?," Experimental 0305002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0305002 Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 20 .
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    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/exp/papers/0305/0305002.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    2. George Loewenstein & Richard H Thaler, 2003. "Anomalies: Intertemporal Choice," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000784, David K. Levine.
    3. Smith, Vernon L, 1976. "Experimental Economics: Induced Value Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 274-279, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Andrew & Etile, Fabrice, 2002. "Do health changes affect smoking? Evidence from British panel data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 533-562, July.
    2. Vivian Lei & Charles N. Noussair, 2002. "An Experimental Test of an Optimal Growth Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 549-570, June.
    3. Fehr, Ernst & Zych, Peter K., 2008. "Intertemporal Choice under Habit Formation," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    4. Blondel, Serge & Loheac, Youenn & Rinaudo, Stephane, 2007. "Rationality and drug use: An experimental approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 643-658, May.
    5. Carbone, Enrica & Duffy, John, 2014. "Lifecycle consumption plans, social learning and external habits: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 413-427.
    6. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
    7. Smith, Trenton G. & Tasnadi, Attila, 2007. "A theory of natural addiction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 316-344, May.
    8. Markus Pasche, 2008. "Zum Erklärungsgehalt der verhaltensorientierten Spieltheorie," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers (Expired!) 04/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.
    9. Enrica Carbone & Gerardo Infante, 2014. "Comparing behavior under risk and under ambiguity in a lifecycle experiment," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 313-322, October.
    10. Grabner, Christian & Hahn, Heiko & Leopold-Wildburger, Ulrike & Pickl, Stefan, 2009. "Analyzing the sustainability of harvesting behavior and the relationship to personality traits in a simulated Lotka-Volterra biotope," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 761-767, March.
    11. Klaus Abbink & Heike Hennig-Schmidt, 2006. "Neutral versus loaded instructions in a bribery experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 103-121, June.
    12. Koehler, Derek J. & Langstaff, Jesse & Liu, Wu-Qi, 2015. "A simulated financial savings task for studying consumption and retirement decision making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 89-97.
    13. repec:pit:wpaper:513 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Takanori Ida, 2012. "Impatience and Immediacy: A Quasi-Hyperbolic Discounting Approach to Smoking Behavior," Discussion papers e-11-010, Graduate School of Economics Project Center, Kyoto University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Addicts; Rational Behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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