Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

New tests of cumulative prospect theory and the priority heuristic: Probability-outcome tradeoff with branch splitting


Author Info

  • Michael H. Birnbaum
Registered author(s):


    Previous tests of cumulative prospect theory (CPT) and of the priority heuristic (PH) found evidence contradicting these two models of risky decision making. However, those tests were criticized because they had characteristics that might ``trigger'' use of other heuristics. This paper presents new tests that avoid those characteristics. Expected values of the gambles are nearly equal in each choice. In addition, if a person followed expected value (EV), expected utility (EU), CPT, or PH in these tests, she would shift her preferences in the same direction as shifts in EV or EU. In contrast, the transfer of attention exchange model (TAX) and a similarity model predict that people will reverse preferences in the opposite direction. Results contradict the PH, even when PH is modified to include a preliminary similarity evaluation using the PH parameters. New tests of probability-consequence interaction were also conducted. Strong interactions were observed, contrary to PH. These results add to the growing bodies of evidence showing that neither CPT nor PH is an accurate description of risky decision making.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2008)
    Issue (Month): (April)
    Pages: 304-316

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i::p:304-316

    Contact details of provider:

    Related research

    Keywords: choice; cumulative prospect theory; decision making; lexicographic semiorder; priority heuristic; prospect theory; utility.;


    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Leland, Jonathan W, 1994. "Generalized Similarity Judgments: An Alternative Explanation for Choice Anomalies," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 151-72, October.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    3. Jonathan W. Leland, 1998. "Similarity Judgments in Choice Under Uncertainty: A Reinterpretation of the Predictions of Regret Theory," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(5), pages 659-672, May.
    4. Birnbaum, Michael H & Navarrete, Juan B, 1998. "Testing Descriptive Utility Theories: Violations of Stochastic Dominance and Cumulative Independence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 49-78, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Amélie Vrijdags, 2013. "Min- and Max-induced rankings: an experimental study," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 233-266, August.
    2. Alexander Morell & Andreas Glöckner & Emanuel Towfigh, 2009. "Sticky Rebates: Rollback Rebates Induce Non-Rational Loyalty in Consumers," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_23, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Feb 2013.
    3. Benjamin E. Hilbig, 2008. "One-reason decision making in risky choice? A closer look at the priority heuristic," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3(6), pages 457-462, August.
    4. Yun-shil Cha & Michelle Choi & Ying Guo & Michel Regenwetter & Chris Zwilling, 2013. "Reply: Birnbaum's (2012) statistical tests of independence have unknown Type-I error rates and do not replicate within participant," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(1), pages 55-73, January.
    5. Andreas Glöckner & Ann-Katrin Herbold, 2008. "Information Processing in Decisions under Risk: Evidence for Compensatory Strategies based on Automatic Processes," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_42, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:3:y:2008:i::p:304-316. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jonathan Baron).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.