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A Theory of Natural Addiction

Author

Listed:
  • Trenton G. Smith

    (Washington State University)

  • Attila Tasnádi

    (Corvinus University of Budapest)

Abstract

Economic theories of rational addiction aim to describe consumer behavior in the presence of habit-forming goods. We provide a biological foundation for this body of work by formally specifying conditions under which it is optimal to form a habit. We demonstrate the empirical validity of our thesis with an in-depth review and synthesis of the biomedical literature concerning the action of opiates in the mammalian brain and their e ects on behavior. Our results lend credence to many of the unconventional behavioral assumptions employed by theories of rational addiction, including adjacent complementarity and the importance of cues, attention, and self-control in determining the behavior of addicts. Our approach suggests, however, that addiction is 'harmful' only when the addict fails to implement the optimal solution. We offer evidence for the special case of the opiates that harmful addiction is the manifestation of a mismatch between behavioral algorithms encoded in the human genome and the expanded menu of choices- -generated for example, by advances in drug delivery technology--faced by consumers in the modern world.

Suggested Citation

  • Trenton G. Smith & Attila Tasnádi, 2005. "A Theory of Natural Addiction," Microeconomics 0503006, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0503006
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 41. UCLA International Institute Global Fellows Working Paper Series; December 18, 2003
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/mic/papers/0503/0503006.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    14. Trenton G. Smith, 2004. "The McDonald’s Equilibrium. Advertising, empty calories, and the endogenous determination of dietary preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 23(3), pages 383-413, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Perez-Truglia, Ricardo, 2012. "On the causes and consequences of hedonic adaptation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1182-1192.
    2. Perez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolas, 2009. "On the genesis of Hedonic Adaptation," MPRA Paper 19929, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Trenton Smith & Young H. Lee, 2006. "Why are Americans Addicted to Baseball? An Empirical Analysis of Fandom in Korea and the U.S," Working Papers 2006-05, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    4. Trenton G. Smith & Attila Tasnádi, 2014. "The Economics of Information, Deep Capture, and the Obesity Debate," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(2), pages 533-541.
    5. Trenton Smith & Hayley Chouinard & Philip Wandschneider, 2009. "Waiting for the Invisible Hand: Market Power and Endogenous Information in the Modern Market for Food," Working Papers 2009-07, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    6. List, John A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin, 2015. "The behavioralist as nutritionist: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve child food choice and consumption," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 135-146.
    7. Graham, Hope E. & Vestal, Mallory K. & Guerrero, Bridget L., 2015. ""Go-Slow-Whoa!": Will Nutritional Information Influence Adolescent Food Choices and Lead to a Healthier Generation?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 206007, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    8. Smith Trenton G. & Stoddard Christiana & Barnes Michael G, 2009. "Why the Poor Get Fat: Weight Gain and Economic Insecurity," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-31, June.
    9. Réquillart, Vincent & Soler, Louis-Georges & Zang, Yu, 2016. "Quality standards versus nutritional taxes: Health and welfare impacts with strategic firms," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 268-285.
    10. Smith, Trenton G. & Chouinard, Hayley H. & Wandschneider, Philip R., 2011. "Waiting for the invisible hand: Novel products and the role of information in the modern market for food," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 239-249, April.
    11. Rhodes, Charles, 2012. "A Dynamic Model of Failure to Maximize Utility in the Chronic Consumer Choice to Consume Foods High in Added Sugars," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124693, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Trenton Smith, 2009. "Reconciling psychology with economics: Obesity, behavioral biology, and rational overeating," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 249-282, December.
    13. Just, David R. & Mancino, Lisa & Wansink, Brian, 2007. "Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?," Economic Research Report 6391, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    14. Young H. Lee & Trenton G. Smith, 2008. "Why Are Americans Addicted To Baseball? An Empirical Analysis Of Fandom In Korea And The United States," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 32-48, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-control; endogenous opioids; addiction; behavioral ecology; neuroeconomics; autism;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design

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