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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Preference reversals between intertemporal choice and pricing


Preference reversals in risky choice -- where people favor low-risk prospects in binary choice but assign higher prices to high-risk prospects -- have led to models of response processes that differentiate pricing from choice. Theories of intertemporal choice do not distinguish between response processes, assuming instead that eliciting choices or prices will lead to the same inferences about people’s preferences for delayed outcomes. Here, we show that this assumption is incorrect. Participants in a price-choice experiment showed systematic preferences for smaller-sooner (SS) over larger-later (LL) options in binary choice, but reversed this apparent preference by pricing the exact same LL options higher than the SS options. This reversal in pricing results in less impulsive behavior, suggesting that pricing frames may reduce choice impulsivity. To explain these diverging price and choice findings in a common framework, we propose a variant of a pricing model from risky choice that accommodates these effects.

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