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Imprecision as an Account of the Preference Reversal Phenomenon

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  • David J. Butler
  • Graham C. Loomes

Abstract

Many individuals' choices and valuations involve a degree of uncertainty/imprecision. This paper reports an experiment designed to obtain some measure of imprecision and to examine the extent to which it can explain preference reversals of two opposite forms, one of which appears not to have been reported previously. The model of imprecision we examine not only predicts both patterns but also provides an account of earlier results that are otherwise not well explained. The results suggest that any successful descriptive theory of choice and valuation will need to allow in some way for the imprecision surrounding people's decisions. (JEL C91, D11, D81)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 277-297

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:277-297

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.1.277
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  1. Loomes, G. & Moffatt, P.G. & Sugden, R., 1998. "A Microeconometric Test of Alternative Stochastic Theories of Risky Choice," University of East Anglia Discussion Papers in Economics 9806, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  2. Seidl, Christian, 2002. " Preference Reversal," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 621-55, December.
  3. Ulrich Schmidt & John D. Hey, 2004. "Are Preference Reversals Errors? An Experimental Investigation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(3), pages 207-218, December.
  4. Eliaz, Kfir & Ok, Efe A., 2006. "Indifference or indecisiveness? Choice-theoretic foundations of incomplete preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-86, July.
  5. Robin P. Cubitt & Alistair Munro & Chris Starmer, 2004. "Testing explanations of preference reversal," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 709-726, 07.
  6. Hey, John D & Orme, Chris, 1994. "Investigating Generalizations of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1291-1326, November.
  7. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1998. "Testing Different Stochastic Specifications of Risky Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(260), pages 581-98, November.
  8. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1988. "Similarity and decision-making under risk (is there a utility theory resolution to the Allais paradox?)," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 145-153, October.
  9. Dubourg, W R & Jones-Lee, M W & Loomes, Graham, 1997. "Imprecise Preferences and Survey Design in Contingent Valuation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 64(256), pages 681-702, November.
  10. Graham Loomes, 2005. "Modelling the Stochastic Component of Behaviour in Experiments: Some Issues for the Interpretation of Data," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 301-323, December.
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