Working Paper No. 1145

Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice

Published: December 14, 2016Pages: 84Keywords: Individual decision making; Focus; Attention; Salience; Decoy; ExperimentsJEL-codes: D03, D12, C91

Differences Attract: An Experimental Study of Focusing in Economic Choice Ola Andersson, Jim Ingebretsen Carlson and Erik Wengström


Several recent behavioral models of choice build on the idea that decision makers put more weight on attributes in which the available options differ more. We test this assumption in a controlled experiment where such biases will generate choice inconsistencies.

As hypothesized, we find that subjects make more inconsistent choices when we add new options that affect the maximal difference in attributes among the options. Our findings suggest that the decision maker's focus is drawn to attributes that stand out. We also test the focusing effect against theories of decoy effects (asymmetric dominance), but we find that the focus effect dominates.

Ola Andersson

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ola.andersson@ifn.se

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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