The State of the Art and the State of Practice
Edited by Stephane Hess and Andrew Daly
The past decade has seen a large and growing interest in the study of mate preferences (see Hitsch et al., 2010 for a recent contribution including a very useful review of past work). Various studies have attempted to derive mate preferences by means of the estimation of choice models on observed (stated or revealed) choices. Estimated choice models are generally built on the premises of utility-maximization: i.e., the decision-maker is postulated to select a mate (or a date) from which he or she expects to derive the highest utility. In these studies, often a (variant of the) well-known multinomial logit (MNL) model is estimated, which is founded in random utility maximization (RUM) theory (e.g., Fisman et al., 2006; Banerjee et al., 2009; Hitsch et al., 2010). Although it goes without saying that this utilitarian approach to modeling mate preferences has resulted in many valuable insights, it leaves open the important question to what extent mate selection processes are in fact adequately represented by a utilitarian framework. Motivated by this question, this chapter compares utility-maximization based choice models with equally parsimonious counterparts that are based on regret-minimization premises. The focus on regret-based choice models is inspired by the notion put forward throughout the social sciences, that regret-minimization is an important determinant of choice behavior.
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