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Choice, Deferral and Consistency

Miguel Costa-Gomes, Carlos Cueva, Georgios Gerasimou and Matus Tejiscak

No 201416, Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance from School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews

Abstract: We report on three novel choice experiments with real goods and money lotteries where subjects in one treatment are forced to choose some item from every menu, while in the other treatment they are not forced to choose, and can instead incur a small cost to defer choice. Our first finding is that subjects in the latter treatment often opt for costly choice deferral, even when doing so is not associated with payoff-relevant informational gains. With choice consistency proxied by the subjects' degree of conformity with standard no-cycle conditions (WARP, Congruence, Binary Congruence) on their active choices, our main finding is that subjects who are forced to choose behave less consistently in this sense than subjects who are not. This suggests that forced-choice experimental designs can potentially lead researchers to overestimate the fraction of subjects that do not maximize a stable and transitive preference relation.

Keywords: Choice deferral; choice reversals; revealed preference; indecisiveness; incomplete preferences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D01 D03 D11 D12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-upt
Date: 2014-12-12, Revised 2019-01-09
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