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Don’t aim too high: the potential costs of high aspirations

Astrid Matthey () and Nadja Dwenger

SFB 649 Discussion Papers from Humboldt University, Collaborative Research Center 649

Abstract: The higher our aspirations, the higher the probability that we have to adjust them downwards when forming more realistic expectations later on. This paper shows that the costs induced by high aspirations are not trivial. We first develop a theoretical framework to identify the factors that determine the effect of aspirations on expected utility. Then we present evidence from a lab experiment on the factor found to be crucial: the adjustment of reference states to changes in expectations. The results suggest that the costs of high aspirations can be significant, since reference states do not adjust quickly. We use a novel, indirect approach that allows us to infer the determinants of the reference state from observed behavior, rather than to rely on cheap talk.

Keywords: aspirations; reference state; expectations; individual utility; experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D11 D84 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 23 pages
Date: 2008-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-hap and nep-upt
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3)

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Related works:
Working Paper: Don't aim too high: the potential costs of high aspirations (2007) Downloads
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