Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1896182
 
 

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What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?


Daniel J. Benjamin


Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ori Heffetz


Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Miles S. Kimball


University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alex Rees-Jones


Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

July 27, 2011

American Economic Review, 102(5): 2083–2110
Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 32-2011

Abstract:     
Would people choose what they think would maximize their subjective well-being (SWB)? We present survey respondents with hypothetical scenarios and elicit both choice and predicted SWB rankings of two alternatives. While choice and predicted SWB rankings usually coincide in our data, we find systematic reversals. We identify factors - such as predicted sense of purpose, control over one’s life, family happiness, and social status - that help explain hypothetical choice controlling for predicted SWB. We explore how our findings vary by SWB measure and by scenario. Our results have implications regarding the use of SWB survey questions as a proxy for utility.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

Keywords: happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, hypothetical choice, utility

JEL Classification: D03, D60

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: July 28, 2011 ; Last revised: September 22, 2013

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Daniel J. and Heffetz, Ori and Kimball, Miles S. and Rees-Jones, Alex, What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose? (July 27, 2011). American Economic Review, 102(5): 2083–2110; Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 32-2011 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1896182

Contact Information

Daniel J. Benjamin
Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )
414 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Ori Heffetz (Contact Author)
Cornell University - S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )
324 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607.255.4668 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/faculty/profiles/heffetz/
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Miles S. Kimball
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )
611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
734-764-2375 (Phone)
734-764-2769 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Alex Rees-Jones
Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.alexreesjones.com
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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