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A Parametric Analysis of Prospect Theory's Functionals for the General Population

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  • Adam S. Booij
  • Bernard M.S. Van Praag
  • Gijs Van De Kuilen

Abstract

This paper presents the results of an experiment that completely measures the utility function and probability weighting function for different positive and negative monetary outcomes, using a representative sample of N = 1935 from the general public. The results confirm earlier findings in the lab, suggesting that utility is less pronounced than what is found in classical measurements where expected utility is assumed. Utility for losses is found to be convex, consistent with diminishing sensitivity, and the obtained loss aversion coefficient of 1.6 is moderate but in agreement with contemporary evidence. The estimated probability weighing functions have an inverse-S shape and they imply pessimism in both domains. These results show that probability weighting is also an important phenomenon in the general population. Women and lower educated individuals are found to be more risk averse, in agreement with common findings. Unlike previous studies that ascribed gender differences in risk attitudes solely to differences in the degree utility curvature, however, our results show that this finding is primarily driven by loss aversion and, for women, also by a more pessimistic psychological response towards the probability of obtaining the best possible outcome.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2609.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2609

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Keywords: prospect theory; utility for gains and losses; loss aversion; subjective probability weighting;

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Cited by:
  1. Attema, Arthur E. & Brouwer, Werner B.F. & l’Haridon, Olivier, 2013. "Prospect theory in the health domain: A quantitative assessment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1057-1065.
  2. Jose-Luis Pinto-Prades & Jose-Maria Abellan-Perpiñan, 2011. "When normative and descriptive diverge: how to bridge the difference," Working Papers 11.06, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
  3. Mathieu Lefebvre & Ferdinand Vieider & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2009. "The Ratio Bias Phenomenon : Fact or Artifact ?," Working Papers 0925, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  4. Markus Jäntti & Ravi Kanbur & Milla Nyyssölä & Jukka Pirttilä, 2013. "Poverty and Welfare Measurement on the Basis of Prospect Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 4095, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Erner, Carsten & Klos, Alexander & Langer, Thomas, 2013. "Can prospect theory be used to predict an investor’s willingness to pay?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1960-1973.
  6. Alpaslan Akay & Peter Martinsson & Haileselassie Medhin & Stefan Trautmann, 2012. "Attitudes toward uncertainty among the poor: an experiment in rural Ethiopia," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 453-464, September.
  7. Pahlke, Julius & Strasser, Sebastian & Vieider, Ferdinand M., 2010. "Responsibility Effects in Decision Making under Risk," Discussion Papers in Economics 12115, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Pahlke, Julius & Strasser, Sebastian & Vieider, Ferdinand M., 2012. "Risk-taking for others under accountability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 102-105.
  9. Lefebvre, Mathieu & Vieider, Ferdinand M., 2011. "Risk Taking of Executives under Different Incentive Contracts: Experimental Evidence," Discussion Papers in Economics 12210, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2011. "Uncertainty Equivalents: Testing the Limits of the Independence Axiom," NBER Working Papers 17342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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