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Choice deferral, indecisiveness and preference for flexibility

Pejsachowicz, Leonardo and Toussaert, Séverine (2017) Choice deferral, indecisiveness and preference for flexibility. Journal of Economic Theory, 170. pp. 417-425. ISSN 0022-0531

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jet.2017.05.001


In a standard model of menu choice, we examine the behavior of an agent who applies the following Cautious Deferral rule: “Whenever in doubt, don't commit; just leave options open.” Our primitive is a complete preference relation ≽ that represents the agent's choice behavior. The agent's indecisiveness is captured by means of a possibly incomplete (but otherwise rational) preference relation ≽ˆ. We ask when ≽ can be viewed as a Cautious Deferral completion of some incomplete ≽ˆ. Under the independence and continuity assumptions commonly used in the menu choice literature, we find that even the smallest amount of indecisiveness is enough to force ≽, through the above deferral rule, to exhibit preference for flexibility on its entire domain. Thus we highlight a fundamental tension between non-monotonic preferences, such as preferences for self-control, and tendency to defer choice due to indecisiveness.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Elsevier
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 10:49
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 15:50

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