Efficient Coding and Choice Behavior

author: Michael Woodford, Economics Department, Columbia University
published: July 28, 2015,   recorded: June 2015,   views: 1754


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The talk will discuss consequences for choice behavior of limits on the accuracy of subjective coding of the features of a choice situation, such as the attributes of the options available in the current choice set. It will be argued that such limits can explain aspects of behavior that may appear to be anomalies from the standpoint of rational choice theory, including stochasticity of choice, focusing illusions, context-dependent choice, and violations of the predictions of expected utility maximization. Implications of the hypothesis of efficient coding, as a specific theory of the nature of the errors in subjective coding are developed under alternative views of what the appropriate cost function for more complex representations might be, and it will be considered whether experimental evidence from both perceptual domains and value-based choice can be used to decide among alternative theories of efficient coding.

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