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Measuring Individual Risk Attitudes in the Lab: Task or Ask? An Empirical Comparison

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Author Info

  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist

    (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Markku Verkasalo

    (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Gari Walkowitz

    (Department of Management, University of Cologne, Germany)

  • Philipp C. Wichardt

    (Institute of Economic Theory 3, University of Bonn, Germany)

Abstract

This paper compares two prominent empirical measures of individual risk attitudes - the Holt and Laury (2002) lottery-choice task and the multi-item questionnaire advocated by Dohmen, Falk, Huffman, Schupp, Sunde and Wagner (forthcoming) - with respect to (a) their within-subject stability over time (one year) and (b) their correlation with actual risk-taking behaviour in the lab - here the amount sent in a trust game (Berg, Dickaut, McCabe, 1995). As it turns out, the measures themselves are uncorrelated (both times) and, most importantly, only the questionnaire measure exhibits test-re-test stability (Ï = .78), while virtually no such stability is found in the lottery-choice task. In addition, only the questionnaire measure shows the expected correlations with a Big Five personality measure and is correlated with actual risk-taking behaviour. The results suggest that the questionnaire measure is a better measure of individual risk attitudes than the lottery-choice task. Moreover, with respect to trust, the high re-test stability of trust transfers (Ï = .70) further supports the conjecture that trusting behaviour indeed has a component which itself is a stable individual characteristic (Glaeser, Laibson, Scheinkman and Soutter, 2000).

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences in its series Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series with number 02-03.

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Date of creation: 18 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:02-03

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Keywords: Risk Attitudes; Trust; Personality; Lab Experiments;

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References

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  1. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt731230f8, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Fehr, Ernst, 2008. "On the Economics and Biology of Trust," IZA Discussion Papers 3895, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Ben-Ner, Avner & Halldorsson, Freyr, 2010. "Trusting and trustworthiness: What are they, how to measure them, and what affects them," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 64-79, February.
  4. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2013. "Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor, 2008. "Are Risk Preferences Stable? Comparing an Experimental Measure with a Validated Survey-Based Measure," Working Papers 74, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  6. John D Hey & Andrea Morone & Ulrich Schmidt, 2007. "Noise and Bias in Eliciting Preferences," Discussion Papers 07/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
  7. Nigel Nicholson & Emma Soane & Mark Fenton-O'Creevy & Paul Willman, 2005. "Personality and domain-specific risk taking," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 157-176, March.
  8. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2012. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 645-677.
  9. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
  13. Houser, Daniel & Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2010. "Distinguishing trust from risk: An anatomy of the investment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 72-81, May.
  14. Isaac, R Mark & James, Duncan, 2000. " Just Who Are You Calling Risk Averse?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-87, March.
  15. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  16. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin, 2010. "Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," Research Memorandum 012, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  17. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  18. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Goeree, Jacob & Holt, Charles, 2000. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-value Auctions," Working Papers 1073, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  22. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2003. "Risk averse behavior in generalized matching pennies games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 97-113, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Adam Eric Greenberg, 2013. "When imagining future wealth influences risky decision making," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(3), pages 268-277, May.
  2. Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2012. "Trust and trustworthiness with singleton groups," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 12-03, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  3. Hardeweg, Bernd & Menkhoff, Lukas & Waibel, Hermann, 2011. "Experimentally-validated survey evidence on individual risk attitudes in rural Thailand," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-464, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  4. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2012. "Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices," NBER Working Papers 18576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2013. "Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Gloede, Oliver & Menkhoff, Lukas & Waibel, Hermann, 2011. "Risk attitude and risk behavior: Comparing Thailand and Vietnam," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 33, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  7. Michalis Drouvelis & Daniele Nosenzo, 2012. "Group Identity and Leading-by-Example," Discussion Papers 2012-05, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  8. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Imas, Alex, 2013. "Experimental methods: Eliciting risk preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 43-51.
  9. Garapin, A. & Muller, L. & Rahali, B., 2013. "Does trust mean giving and not risking? Experimental evidence from the trust game," Working Papers 2013-12, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  10. Swee-Hoon Chuah & Robert Hoffmann & Jeremy Larner, 2014. "Elicitation effects in a multi-stage bargaining experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 335-345, June.
  11. Howard, Gregory E. & Roe, Brian E., 2011. "Comparing the Risk Attitudes of U.S. and German Farmers," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114528, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  12. Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Lefebvre, Mathieu & Bouchouicha, Ranoua & Chmura, Thorsten & Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Krawczyk, Michal & Martinsson, Peter, 2013. "Common components of risk and uncertainty attitudes across contexts and domains: Evidence from 30 countries," Discussion Papers, WZB Junior Research Group Risk and Development SP II 2013-402, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  13. Uwe Dulleck & Jacob Fell & Jonas Fooken, 2011. "Within-subject Intra- and Inter-method consistency of two experimental risk attitude elicitation," NCER Working Paper Series 74, National Centre for Econometric Research.

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