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Indifference or indecisiveness: a strict discrimination

Qiu, Jianying and Ong, Qiyan (2017): Indifference or indecisiveness: a strict discrimination.

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Abstract

We develop a new approach to directly and strictly distinguish indecisiveness from indifference, and study the prevalence and welfare implications of indecisiveness. In our approach experimental subjects face a list of pairs of options. Besides the standard choice of choosing one option out of the pair (the binary choice), we also allow experimental subjects to randomize over the two options by choosing probabilities according to which either option determines the payoffs (the randomized choice). Furthermore, we elicit subjects' willingness to pay (WTP) of using the randomized choice via a modified multiple price list method. We show that subjects might strictly prefer the randomized choice over the binary choice when they are indecisive. Our results suggest that (1) the vast majority of subjects randomized actively; (2) subjects took longer time to make strictly randomized decisions; (3) subjects were willing to pay a strictly positive amount of money to randomize, and they were willing to pay more for choices that they feel more indecisive. These results provide strong evidence for the existence of indecisiveness in choices. More importantly, it suggests that there might exist significant welfare losses when indecisive individuals are forced to make all-or-nothing decisions against their potentially incomplete preferences.

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