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A Science of Decision MakingThe Legacy of Ward Edwards$
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Jie W. Weiss and David J. Weiss

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195322989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195322989.001.0001

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Why Is a Bird in the Hand Worth Two in the Bush?

Why Is a Bird in the Hand Worth Two in the Bush?

(p.476) 35 Why Is a Bird in the Hand Worth Two in the Bush?
A Science of Decision Making

Jie W Weiss

David J Weiss

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a prescriptive model for selecting an acceptable option that is currently (but only temporarily) available over more attractive prospects whose availabilities are uncertain. This is called the “bird in the hand” dilemma, and it is compared to other named phenomena in which time affects utility, including status quo bias, temporal discounting, and optimal stopping. The chapter considers both one-sided risky choices, such as buying a house; and two-sided choices, such as finding a mate. The model is adapted from a standard multiattribute utility model, with added parameters that express the time limitation on the adequate option and the probabilities of better options becoming available. According to the model, as time passes and better offers do not eventuate, the current offer becomes increasingly more attractive.

Keywords:   decision making, choice, bird in the hand, options

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