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Measuring risk aversion with lists: A new bias

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  • Antoni Bosch-Domenech
  • Joaquim Silvestre

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

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    Abstract

    Various experimental procedures aimed at measuring individual risk aversion involve a list of pairs of alternative prospects. We first study the widely used method by Holt and Laury (2002), for which we find that the removal of some items from the lists yields a systematic decrease in risk aversion and scrambles the ranking of individuals by risk aversion. This bias, that we call embedding bias, is quite distinct from other confounds that have been previously observed in the use of the Holt and Laury method. It may be related to empirical phenomena and theoretical developments where better prospects increase risk aversion. Nevertheless, we also find that the more recent elicitation method due to Abdellaoui et al. (2011), also based on lists but using only one and the same probability in the list, does not display any statistically significant bias when the corresponding items of the list are removed. Our results suggest that methods other than the popular Holt and Laury one may be preferable for the measurement of risk aversion.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1223.

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    Length: 42
    Date of creation: 26 Sep 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:12-23

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    Keywords: Risk aversion; risk attitudes; experiments; lists; elicitation method; Holt; Laury; Abdellaoui; Driouchi; l’Haridon; independence axiom; probability weighting;

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    1. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Ahmed Driouchi & Olivier L’Haridon, 2011. "Risk aversion elicitation: reconciling tractability and bias minimization," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 71(1), pages 63-80, July.
    2. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutstr�m, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
    3. Louis Lévy-Garboua & Hela Maafi & David Masclet & Antoine Terracol, 2012. "Risk aversion and framing effects," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 128-144, March.
    4. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2010. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1375-1412, 07.
    5. Steffen Anderson & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & Rutstrom Elisabet, 2007. "Valuation using multiple price list formats," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 675-682.
    6. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
    7. Wakker,Peter P., 2010. "Prospect Theory," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521765015, April.
    8. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2006. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 383-405, December.
    9. John C. Hershey & Howard C. Kunreuther & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1982. "Sources of Bias in Assessment Procedures for Utility Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(8), pages 936-954, August.
    10. Helga Fehr-Duda & Adrian Bruhin & Thomas Epper & Renate Schubert, 2010. "Rationality on the rise: Why relative risk aversion increases with stake size," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 147-180, April.
    11. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680, Octomber.
    12. John C. Hershey & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1985. "Probability Versus Certainty Equivalence Methods in Utility Measurement: Are they Equivalent?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(10), pages 1213-1231, October.
    13. Drichoutis, Andreas & Lusk, Jayson, 2012. "Risk preference elicitation without the confounding effect of probability weighting," MPRA Paper 37762, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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