Challenging the economist’s idea that choices are synonymous with preferences, the economist Tibor Scitovsky asked what role joyful stimulation, and novelty and variety, can play in individual and social wellbeing. In particular, he contrasted two different sorts of consumption activities as sources of human satisfaction: those comfort-oriented, which have low costs of access in terms of knowledge and skills but decreasing returns because of habituation, and those pleasure-oriented which might have increasing returns but involve higher costs in terms of consumption skills and human resources involved. The paper explores the competitive disadvantages that these second forms of consumption might suffer, and the possible consequences in terms of social welfare configurations.
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