Preference (also called "taste" or "penchant") is a concept, used in the
social sciences, particularly economics. It assumes a real or imagined "choice" between alternatives and the possibility of rank ordering of these alternatives, based on happiness, satisfaction, gratification, enjoyment, utilitythey provide. More generally, it can be seen as a source of motivation.In cognitive sciences, individual preferences enable choice of objectives/goals.
Also, more consumption of a normal good is generally (but not always) assumed to be preferred to less consumption.
Preference in economics
microeconomics, preferences of consumers and other entities are modelled with preference relations.
Let S be the set of all "packages" of goods and services (or more generally "possible worlds").Then ≤ is a preference relation on S if it is a
binary relationon S such that a ≤ b if and only if b is at least as preferable as a.It is conventional to say "b is weakly preferred to a", or just "b is preferred to a". If a ≤ b but not b ≤ a, then the consumer strictly prefers b to a, which is written a < b. If a ≤ b and b ≤ a then the consumer is indifferent between a and b.
These assumptions are commonly made:
*The relation is reflexive: a ≤ a
*The relation is transitive: a ≤ b and b ≤ c then a ≤ c. Together with reflexivity this means it is a
*The relation is complete: for all a and b in S we have a ≤ b or b ≤ a or both (notice that completeness implies reflexivity). This means the consumer is able to form an opinion about the relative merit of any pair of bundles.
*The relation is continuous (if S is a
topological space, this means that for every pair of convergent sequences and with for all n, we have x ≤ y; this is automatically satisfied if S is finite).
If ≤ is both transitive and complete, then it is a rational preference relation. In some literature, a transitive and complete relation is called a ml|Strict weak ordering|Total_preorders|weak order (or total preorder).
If a consumer has a preference relation that violates transitivity, then an unscrupulous person can milk them as follows. Suppose the consumer has an apple, and prefers apples to oranges, oranges to bananas, and bananas to apples. Then, the consumer would be prepared to pay, say, one cent to trade their apple for a banana, because they prefer bananas to apples. After that, they would pay once cent to trade their banana for an orange, and again the orange for an apple, and so on. (See: "Intransitivity. Occurences.")
Completeness is more philosophically questionable. In most applications, S is an infinite set and the consumer is not conscious of all preferences. For example, one does not have to make up one's mind about whether one prefers to go on holiday by plane or by train if one does not have enough money to go on holiday anyway (although it can be nice to dream about what one would do if one would win the lottery). However, preference can be interpreted as a hypothetical choice that could be made rather than a conscious state of mind. In this case, completeness amounts to an assumption that the consumer can always make up their mind whether they are indifferent or prefer one option when presented with any pair of options.
Behavioral economicsinvestigates the circumstances when human behavior is consistent and inconsistent with these assumptions.
The indifference relation ~ is an
equivalence relation. Thus we have a quotient setS/~ of equivalence classes of S, which forms a partition of S. Each equivalence class is a set of packages that is equally preferred.If there are only two commodities, the equivalence classes can be graphically represented as indifference curves.Based on the preference relation on S we have a preference relation on S/~. As opposed to the former, the latter is antisymmetric and a total order.
It is usually more convenient to describe a preference relation on S with a
utilityfunction , such that u(a) ≤ u(b) if and only ifa ≤ b. A continuous utility function always exists if ≤ is a continuous rational preference relation on . For any such preference relation, there are many continuous utility functions that represent it. Conversely, every utility function can be used to construct a unique preference relation.
All the above is independent of the prices of the goods and services and independent of the budget of the consumer. These determine the feasible packages (those he or she can afford). In principle the consumer chooses a package within his or her budget such that no other feasible package is preferred over it; the utility is maximized.
Sometimes symbols like are used as a reminder that equivalence is not necessarily
*Kreps, David (1990). "A Course in Microeconomic Theory". New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04264-0
*Mas-Colell, Andreu; Whinston, Michael; & Green, Jerry (1995). "Microeconomic Theory". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507340-1
Preference regression (in marketing)
Strict weak ordering
Time preference theory of interest
* [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/preferences/ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on 'Preferences']
* [http://www.icrsurvey.com/docs/Customer%20Preference%20Formation_1205.doc Customer preference formation] (white paper from ICR)
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préférence — [ preferɑ̃s ] n. f. • preferance v. 1458; de préférer 1 ♦ Jugement ou sentiment par lequel on place une personne, une chose au dessus des autres; jugement plus favorable. Les préférences de chacun. « Sur quelque préférence une estime se fonde »… … Encyclopédie Universelle
preference — pref·er·ence / pre frəns, fə rəns/ n 1: the right to prior payment of a debt with preference over the creditors of the heirs or legatees Louisiana Civil Code 2: the transfer of an insolvent debtor s interest in property to a creditor for an… … Law dictionary
Preference — (fr., spr. Preferangs), Stichspiel, mit Deutscher Karte unter drei, gewöhnlich aber unter vier Personen, so daß der Geber beim Spiele nicht betheiligt ist, gespielt. Der Geber läßt zur rechten Hand abheben, legt die zwei obersten Blätter (Talon)… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Preference — Préférence Voir « préférence » sur le Wiktionnaire … Wikipédia en Français
preference — Preference. s. f. Choix que l on fait d une personne, d une chose plustost que d une autre. Preference certaine, incontestable. juste preference. demander, avoir, obtenir la preference. disputer, emporter la preference. donner la preference.… … Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
Preference — Pref er*ence, n. [Cf. F. pr[ e]f[ e]rence.] 1. The act of Preferring, or the state of being preferred; the setting of one thing before another; precedence; higher estimation; predilection; choice; also, the power or opportunity of choosing; as,… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
preference — a payment by a debtor made during a specified period (90 days or one year) prior to the filing that favors one creditor over others. Preference payments can usually be recovered and returned to the debtor s estate (Glossary of Common Bankruptcy… … Glossary of Bankruptcy
preference — [n1] first choice alternative, choice, cup of tea*, desire, druthers*, election, favorite, flash*, groove, inclination, option, partiality, pick, predilection, prepossession, propensity, say, say so*, selection, top, weakness; concepts 20,529,709 … New thesaurus
preference — [pref′ər əns] n. [MFr préférence < ML praeferentia < L praeferens, prp. of praeferre, to PREFER] 1. a preferring or being preferred; greater liking 2. the right, power, or opportunity of prior choice or claim 3. something preferred; one s… … English World dictionary
Préférence — (franz., spr. āngß , »Vorzug«), Kartenspiel zwischen drei Personen, das mit der deutschen Karte gespielt wird, und in dem die Mehrheit der Stiche den Gewinn entscheidet. Es hat seinen Namen von dem Vorzug, der darin einer Farbe vor der andern… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon