Memory, Attention, and Choice

45 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2017 Last revised: 7 Dec 2020

See all articles by Pedro Bordalo

Pedro Bordalo

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Nicola Gennaioli

Bocconi University - Department of Finance; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

We present a theory in which the choice set cues a consumer to recall a norm, and surprise relative to the norm shapes his attention and choice. We model memory based on Kahana (2012), where past experiences that are more recent or more similar to the cue are recalled and crowd out others. We model surprise relative to the norm using our salience model of attention and choice. The model predicts unstable and inconsistent behavior in new contexts, because these are evaluated relative to past norms. Under some conditions, repeated experience causes norms to adapt, inducing stable – sometimes rational – behavior across different contexts. We test some of the model’s predictions using an expanded data set on rental decisions of movers between US cities first analyzed by Simonsohn and Loewenstein (2006).

Suggested Citation

Bordalo, Pedro and Gennaioli, Nicola and Shleifer, Andrei, Memory, Attention, and Choice (March 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23256, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2937526

Pedro Bordalo (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Nicola Gennaioli

Bocconi University - Department of Finance ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milano, MI 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Andrei Shleifer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-5046 (Phone)
617-496-1708 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/~ashleife/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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Belgium

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