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Revealed Deliberate Preference Changes

Boissonnet, Niels and Ghersengorin, Alexis and Gleyze, Simon (2020): Revealed Deliberate Preference Changes.

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Abstract

We propose a model of chosen preferences together with conditions on choice data that falsify and identify our model. Preferences on alternatives are defined on attributes—e.g. candidates for a job may be experienced or inexperienced. Choice behavior is driven by a subset of attributes. Whenever an attribute becomes salient, the decision maker chooses to make it relevant or irrelevant for her future choices—e.g. employers may deliberately ignore race in the future to prevent discrimination. We identify when this decision is based on the maximization of a meta-preference, implying that preference changes are deliberate. This shows that theories of endogenous preferences, motivated reasoning, evolving attention, changing awareness, etc. can be empirically founded. Moreover, the model can rationalize heterogeneity in choice behavior even under the testable hypothesis that agents' preferences and meta-preferences are identical.

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