Memory, Attention, and Choice


Bordalo, Pedro, Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer. Working Paper. “Memory, Attention, and Choice”.


Building on the textbook description of associative memory (Kahana 2012), we present a model of choice in which options cue recall of similar past experiences. Recall shapes valuation and choice in two ways. First, recalled experiences form a norm, which serves as an initial anchor for valuation. Second, salient quality and price surprises relative to the norm lead to large adjustments in valuation. The model provides a unified account of many well documented choice puzzles including experience effects, projection and attribution biases, background contrast effects, and context- dependent willingness to pay. The results suggest that well-established psychological processes – memory-based norms and attention to surprising features – are key to understanding decision-making.

Last updated on 05/09/2019