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Narrow Bracketing and Dominated Choices

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  • Matthew Rabin
  • Georg Weizsacker

Abstract

We show that any decision maker who "narrowly brackets" (evaluates decisions separately) and does not have constant-absolute-risk-averse preferences will make a first-order stochastically dominated combined choice in some simple pair of independent binary decisions. We also characterize the preference-contingent monetary cost from this mistake. Empirically, in a real-stakes laboratory experiment that replicates Tversky and Kahneman's (1981) experiment, 28 percent of participants choose dominated combinations. In a representative survey eliciting hypothetical large-stakes choices, higher proportions do so. Violation rates vary little with personal characteristics. Average preferences are prospect-theoretic, with an estimated 89 percent of people bracketing narrowly. (JEL D12, D81)

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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1508-43

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:4:p:1508-43

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.4.1508
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  1. Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Economics Working Papers E00-279, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  3. Bowman, David & Minehart, Deborah & Rabin, Matthew, 1999. "Loss aversion in a consumption-savings model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 155-178, February.
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  7. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
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  18. Abdellaoui, Mohammed & Barrios, Carolina & Wakker, Peter P., 2007. "Reconciling introspective utility with revealed preference: Experimental arguments based on prospect theory," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 356-378, May.
  19. Diecidue, Enrico & Wakker, Peter P., 2002. "Dutch books: avoiding strategic and dynamic complications, and a comonotonic extension," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 135-149, March.
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