Nick Harrison: Explaining Addictive Choice

standard models of explaining addiction: the rational choice (RC) account or neurobiology (NB). Harrison opts for RC,arguing that addicts are risk-averse and time-discounters.

Time-discounters prefer choices with short term payoffs since future rewards are less certain or less valuable, or cannot identify with future selves. The only way time-discounting can be rational is if an agent is risk-averse. But the agent has to assign an unrealistically low probability to future payoffs.

On the other hand, if the agent cannot identify with a future self, he/she may be irrational.

HB account attributes addiction to abnormal morphology –> impairment to executive function –> risky behavior –> addiction. Young people have undeveloped executive control and more inclined to risky behaviour.

Kahneman and Tversky: Prospect Theory


Some people only consider possible losses; others only consider possible gains. But there is no stable reference point. Addicts frequently reason from the negative side.


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