Business Economics

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 199–210 | Cite as

Consumer expectations: a new paradigm

  • Richard CurtinEmail author
Original Article


Most scholars view the expectations held by consumers to be little more than uninformed guesses. Nonetheless, research has repeatedly found a close correspondence between aggregate trends in consumer expectations with the corresponding trends in national statistics. The theory of tailored expectations has reconciled the false paradox of micro-inaccuracy and macro-accuracy by shifting the focus from national data to the conditions people actually face. Processing, interpreting, and learning from economic information are largely accomplished by non-conscious cognitive activity. The inherent social nature of economic expectations generates cascades that can result in self-fulfilling expectations and consumers deserve equal billing with business and the government as having an independent and potent impact on the macro-economy. Lastly, the lament that non-conscious cognitive activity cannot be directly observed should not impede progress toward a more robust theory of economic expectations.


Rational expectations Tailored expectations Consumers Surveys 



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Copyright information

© National Association for Business Economics 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Survey Research Center, Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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