Monday, January 16, 2006

Vanilla

The FYO continues to be challenged by our new addition.

Its funny, everyone said that the age difference was "just perfect" and that she'd be a "big help."

While in theory I think the age difference is great, that we gave the FYO many years of undivided attention, blah blah blah, I think that her age makes her just old enough to understand and not quite old enough to handle it maturely.

This past weekend we headed to a sunny southern state to soak up some heat and some help from the grandparents. BioMom and I are now fully rejuvinated and ready to take on parenting once again. But I continued to be shocked at the acrobatics the FYO put herself through at any sign of attention paid to ZeYo. It was, actually, shocking. This afternoon, while on our way out the door, she had actually fit herself into the travel "bucket" that babies use while travel in automobiles.

Priceless.

I know that somewhere in her heart of hearts she knows she's being ridic, she just doesn't know what to do about her feelings yet.

Anyway, in reference to the title of the blog, the FYO displayed today a notable ability to put her own personal preferences regarding quality aside for her own desires for quantity.

I write this again, in both adimiration and shock.

Grandma (formerly called Gaga by FYO) decided to take us out for sandwiches and malts, given it was our last day in non-arctic conditions. In the lead-up negotiations, we were deciding on two malts for BioMom, Gaga and the FYO (I stayed out of it, opting for the cone instead). The FYO, naturally, was angling for her own, personal malt, but BioMom and Gaga were persistent about there being only two malts ordered for the three of them to share.

Some background: Chocolate malts are strictly preferred over vanilla malts and vanilla malts are strictly preferred over all other malts. This preference structure is strongly enjoyed by all.

So, what kind of malt do you want, [FYO]?

Vanilla.


This logic was so completely counterintuitive to me that it took me a while to figure it out. She ordered the known less-preferred flavor in hopes that as a result she would acquire greater quantity.

This is just the sort of problem I am about to teach in intermediate microeconomics. Neoclassical theory would have us believing she is irrational. Why would her preference structure change from chocolate > vanilla > all other to vanilla > chocolate depending on a) the number of people ordering and/or the number of malts being ordered?

This is one of those places where Neoclassical theory falls short and where game theory comes in handy. It is not unlike the fictional example presented in the movie A Beautiful Mind where John Nash suggests that none of his buddies go for the (preferred) blonde in the bar in order to make sure that they all have a date (with a less preferred brunette) at the end of the night.

Brilliant.

3 comments:

thistles said...

She's brilliant!

Taggert said...

She is just a good neoclassical game theorist, with slightly weaker preferences for flavor than for quantity.

giddings said...

Typical Neoclassical economist: A new theory comes out that actually explains real-world observations, they ponder over it for several decades, then absorb it into their cannon and call it "Neoclassical." [For more recent references see the adoption of any work by Stigliz, Sen, or even behavioralist economics.]

Priceless.

What I think is brilliant about FYO's choice was in part her preference structure (I am all about quality over quantity), but that she so acutely recognized the interdependence of peoples choices and hence, strategies.