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On the genesis of Hedonic Adaptation

Perez Truglia, Ricardo Nicolas (2009): On the genesis of Hedonic Adaptation.

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Abstract

Some sensations, in addition to guide behavior, serve an extra and even more important role: as warning or defense mechanisms (e.g. pain, fever). Additionally, intense sensations are costly from a fitness point of view. With only these two biological facts we show that Nature must design utility functions with regulation mechanisms such as hedonic adaptation or expectation-based preferences. Even though they are rarely incorporated into economic models, such mechanisms are widely recognized and documented in many fields such as neuroscience and psychology. Using such utility functions economists will not only provide more accurate welfare predictions, but we will also increase the number of behavioral phenomena that we are able to explain. Finally, we provide as an application a model of the psychological defenses.

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