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Decision and Experience: Why Don't We Choose What Makes Us Happy?

Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2006

7 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2006 Last revised: 10 Nov 2008

Christopher K. Hsee

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Reid Hastie

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed a growing interest among psychologists and other social scientists in subjective wellbeing and happiness. Here we review selected contributions to this development from the literature on behavioral decision theory. In particular, we examine many, somewhat surprising, findings that show people systematically fail to predict or choose what maximizes their happiness, and we look at reasons why they fail to do so. These findings challenge a fundamental assumption that underlies popular support for consumer sovereignty and other forms of autonomy in decision-making (e.g. marriage choice), namely, the assumption that people are able to make choices in their own best interests.

Keywords: happiness, affective-forecasting, evaluability, experienced utility, decision bias, affect

JEL Classification: D81, D11, D12, D91

Suggested Citation

Hsee, Christopher K. and Hastie, Reid, Decision and Experience: Why Don't We Choose What Makes Us Happy?. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=929914

Christopher K. Hsee (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Reid Hastie

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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