heuristics after class(1) (1)

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This section needs a new title. It’s really odds and ends that are about choice over time, but not about dynamic inconsistency. 1
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These are assumptions that also might be systematically violated, but they’re different than what is handled by the beta-delta model. Beta-delta assumes these things, too, if you grant that present bias is not the same as violating stationarity. 2
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Are there systematic reasons why we might mis-predict what our instantaneous utility will be at a future time? 3
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Pretty straightforward examples – if people aren’t hungry when they grocery shop, they are less likely to buy extra stuff. If people are already hot, tired, hungry, etc, they are better able to empathize with how bad being stranded without food and water would be. When heroin addicts are craving (before methadone dose), they report a much higher value for their next methadone dose than they do right after their current dose, when they are not craving. 5
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Even though there is some appreciation that one will want different snacks depending on whether they expect to be hungry, there is a main effect of being hungry now, which shouldn’t be relevant. You can see that by comparing the top row to the bottom row; unhealthy snacks are always chosen more for the future when the present self is hungry. 7
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This tendency is pretty powerful, though possibly reflects some rationality. We discussed a few reasons in lecture, including not wanting to become tired of your favorite thing, being sort of risk avoidant, looking for cheap opportunities to seek variety and learn about other possibly preferred items, etc. Those could be explanations, but the following study seems robust against most rational explanations… 8
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When trick-or-treaters choose 2 candy bars from one bowl, they are much more likely to take one of each than if they take one candy bar at successive houses. This result occurs despite the fact that the bowls are replenished between visitors so that there is no information about what others are doing or any pull to save some of one candy for others. This heuristic to diversify when choosing multiple items at once could not serve any preference maximizing function that I can think of without a stretch. 9
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The bigger the difference between the cold and the hot state, the more we might expect a misprediction. 10
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A lot of models of risk-taking, especially in adolescents, suggest that people are somehow not perceiving risk properly or underestimating their personal risk. An alternative explanation is that discounting of the future becomes very strong in a hot state, so that the person knows the risks, but temporarily cares much less about the consequences. 11
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2012 for the course PSYC 265 taught by Professor Jasondana during the Spring '12 term at UPenn.

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