Preference for flexibility in the absence of learning: the risk attitude effect

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Individuals’ preferences over opportunity sets may display “preference for flexibility” which prescribes to gradually eliminate alternatives from a given set until a final choice is made. One rationale for this preference for flexibility is individuals’ incentive to postpone the final choice in order to better learn their underlying preferences over basic alternatives. In this paper we show that even in the absence of learning, preference for flexibility arises if individuals are risk-averse or, at least, are not very risk-seeking. Thus, individual’s attitude towards risk provides yet another rationale for preference for flexibility. One of our results is that in the absence of learning, risk-neutral as well as risk-averse individuals display the same, maximal preference for flexibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-426
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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