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Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 19, Issue 1–3, pp 171–197 | Cite as

Choice Bracketing

  • Daniel Read
  • George Loewenstein
  • Matthew Rabin
Article

Abstract

When making many choices, a person can broadly bracket them by assessing the consequences of all of them taken together, or narrowly bracket them by making each choice in isolation. We integrate research conducted in a wide range of decision contexts which shows that choice bracketing is an important determinant of behavior. Because broad bracketing allows people to take into account all the consequences of their actions, it generally leads to choices that yield higher utility. The evidence that we review, however, shows that people often fail to bracket broadly when it would be feasible for them to do so. In addition to documenting the diverse effects of bracketing, we also discuss factors that determine whether people bracket narrowly or broadly. We conclude with a discussion of normative aspects of bracketing and argue that there are some situations in which narrower bracketing results in superior decision making.

decision framing simultaneous and sequential choice addiction procrastination risk attitude 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Read
    • 1
  • George Loewenstein
    • 2
  • Matthew Rabin
    • 3
  1. 1.Leeds University Business SchoolLeeds
  2. 2.Department of Social and Decision SciencesCarnegie Mellon UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California—Berkeley

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