How (not) to do decision theory

Eddie Dekel*, Barton L. Lipman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We discuss the goals and means of positive decision theory and the implications for how to do decision theory. We argue that the goal of positive economic theory generally is to provide predictions and understanding and that representation theorems and other results of decision theory should be seen as ways to achieve these goals. We also argue that the interpretation of a model is relevant to whether and how we use the model, that psychological considerations are not necessary for useful decision theory but can be helpful, and that nonchoice data, interpreted properly, can be valuable in predicting choice and therefore should not be ignored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-282
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Economics
StatePublished - 2010


FundersFunder number
National Science Foundation
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences0851590, 0820333


    • Axioms
    • Choice theory
    • Representations


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