Theoretical Economics, Volume 13, Number 1 ( 2018)

Theoretical Economics 13 (2018), 145–174

Temptation with uncertain normative preference

John E. Stovall


We model a decision maker who anticipates being tempted but is also uncertain about what is normatively best. Our model is an extended version of Gul and Pesendorfer's (2001) with three time periods: in the ex ante period the agent chooses a set of menus, in the interim period she chooses a menu from this set, and in the final period she chooses from the menu. We posit axioms from the ex ante perspective. Our main axioms on preference state that the agent prefers flexibility in the ex ante period and the option to commit in the interim period. Our representation is a generalization of Dekel et al.'s (2009)and identifies the agent's multiple normative preferences and multiple temptations. We also characterize the uncertain normative preference analogue to the representation of Stovall (2010). Finally, we characterize the special case where normative preference is not uncertain. This special case allows us to uniquely identify all components of the representations of Dekel et al. (2009) and Stovall (2010).

Keywords: Temptation, uncertain normative preference, interim preference for commitment

JEL classification: D01, D11

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