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.
A central challenge in securing property rights is the subversion of justice through legal skill, bribery, or physical force by the strong—the state or its powerful citizens—against the weak. We present evidence that undue influence on judges is a common concern in many countries, especially among the poor. We then present a model of a water polluter whose discharges contaminate adjacent land. If this polluter can subvert the assessment of damages caused by his activity, there is an efficiency case for granting the landowner the right to an injunction that stops the polluter, rather than the right to compensation for the harm. If the polluter can subvert even the determination of his responsibility for harm, there is an efficiency case for regulation that restricts pollution regardless of its effects. We then conduct an empirical analysis of water quality in the U.S. before and after the Clean Water Act, and show how regulation brought about cleaner water, particularly in states with higher corruption.