Discussion paper

DP8519 Preferences for Consistency

This paper studies how a preference for consistency can affect economic decisionmaking. We propose a two-period model where people have a preference for consistency because consistent behavior allows them to signal personal and intellectual strength. We then present three experiments that study main predictions and implications of the model. The first is a simple principal-agent experiment that shows that consistency is valued by others and that this value is anticipated. The second experiment underlines the crucial role of early commitment for consistency preferences. Finally we show how preferences for consistency can be used to manipulate choices.


Falk, A and F Zimmermann (2011), ‘DP8519 Preferences for Consistency‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 8519. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp8519