Preferences for Consistency

39 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2011

See all articles by Armin Falk

Armin Falk

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Florian Zimmermann

University of Bonn

Date Written: August 2011


This paper studies how a preference for consistency can affect economic decisionmaking. We propose a two-period model where people have a preference for consistency because consistent behavior allows them to signal personal and intellectual strength. We then present three experiments that study main predictions and implications of the model. The first is a simple principal-agent experiment that shows that consistency is valued by others and that this value is anticipated. The second experiment underlines the crucial role of early commitment for consistency preferences. Finally we show how preferences for consistency can be used to manipulate choices.

Keywords: charitable giving, consistency preferences, early commitment, experiments, social influence

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D64

Suggested Citation

Falk, Armin and Zimmermann, Florian, Preferences for Consistency (August 2011). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8519. Available at SSRN:

Armin Falk (Contact Author)

briq - Institute on Behavior & Inequality

Schaumburg-Lippe-Stra├če 5-9
Bonn, 53113


Florian Zimmermann

University of Bonn ( email )

Regina-Pacis-Weg 3
Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012

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