ARE REVEALED INTENTIONS POSSIBLE?

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By: John HEY, Carmen PASCA
JEL: C91, D81, D90
Keywords: dynamic decision making, experiments, planning, dynamic consistency

This paper asks whether it is possible to design an Intentions
Revealing Experiment – that is, an experiment in which the early moves of
the decision maker in a dynamic decision problem reveal the intentions of
that decision maker regarding later moves in the decision problem. If such a
type of experiment is possible, then it will enable economists to test whether
individuals have plans and implement them – a basic assumption of all
economic theories of dynamic decision making. Unfortunately the main
finding of the paper is in the form of two Impossibility Theorems which show
that, unless one is prepared to make certain assumptions, such an Intentions
Revealing Experiment is impossible. However, the paper does have a positive
side – it describes the type of assumptions that one needs to make in order to
make an Intentions Revealing Experiment possible.