In Search of Homo Economicus: Transitivity, Emotions, and Cognition

Leonard Lee, MIT, US
Dan Ariely, MIT, US
On Amir, University of California, San Diego, US
In this work, we investigate the role of emotions and cognition in forming consistent preferences (transitivity). Participants were asked to make a set of binary choices under instructions that were aimed to amplify emotional versus cognitive inputs to the decision processes. From these choices, we analyzed the relationships between different experimental conditions and amount of intransitivity. The results of three experiments consistently indicate that automatic affective responses are associated with higher levels of preference transitivity than deliberate cognitive thought, and suggest that the basis of this central aspect of rational behavior—transitivity—lies in the limbic system rather than the cortical system.
[ to cite ]:
Leonard Lee, Dan Ariely, and On Amir (2007) ,"In Search of Homo Economicus: Transitivity, Emotions, and Cognition", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 226-228.