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Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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When Choices are Mistakes
Kirby Nielsen, Assistant Professor of Economics, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Caltech,

Abstract: Using a laboratory experiment, we identify whether decision-makers consider it a mistake to violate canonical choice axioms. To do this, we incentivize subjects to report which of several axioms they want their decisions to satisfy. Then, subjects make lottery choices which might conflict with their stated axiom preferences. We give them the opportunity to re-evaluate their decisions when lotteries conflict with desired axioms. We find that a majority of individuals want to follow the axioms and revise their lottery choices to be consistent with them. We interpret this to mean that many axiom violations in our sample were mistakes.

Written with John Rehbeck.

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For more information, please contact Letty Diaz by phone at 626-395-1255 or by email at [email protected].