School of Economics and Finance

No. 622: A Million Answers to Twenty Questions: Choosing by Checklist

Michael Mandler , Royal Holloway, University of London
Paola Manzini , Queen Mary, University of London and IZA
Marco Mariotti , Queen Mary, University of London

March 1, 2008

Download full paper


Many decision models in marketing science and psychology assume that a consumer chooses by proceeding sequentially through a checklist of desirable properties. These models are contrasted to the utility maximization model of rationality in economics. We show on the contrary that the two approaches are nearly equivalent. Moreover, the length of the shortest checklist as a proportion of the number of an agent's indifference classes shrinks to 0 (at an exponential rate) as the number of indifference classes increases. Checklists therefore provide a rapid procedural basis for utility maximization.

J.E.L classification codes: D01

Keywords:Bounded rationality, Procedural rationality, Utility maximization, Choice behavior