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History-Dependent Risk Attitude

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  • David Dillenberger
  • Kareen Rozen

Abstract

We propose a model of history-dependent risk attitude (HDRA), allowing the attitude of a decision-maker (DM) towards risk at each stage of a T-stage lottery to evolve as a function of his history of disappointments and elations in prior stages. We establish an equivalence between the existence of an HDRA representation and two documented cognitive biases. First, the DM’s risk attitudes are reinforced by prior experiences: he becomes more risk averse after suffering a disappointment and less risk averse after being elated. Second, the DM displays a primacy effect: early outcomes have the strongest effect on risk attitude. Furthermore, the DM lowers his threshold for elation after a disappointing outcome and raises it after an elating outcome; this makes disappointment more likely after elation and vice-versa, leading to statistically reversing risk attitudes. “Gray areas” in the elation-disappointment assignment are connected to optimism and pessimism in determining endogenous reference points.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 661465000000000321.

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Date of creation: 17 Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:661465000000000321

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  1. Machina, Mark J, 1989. "Dynamic Consistency and Non-expected Utility Models of Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(4), pages 1622-68, December.
  2. Ulrike Malmendier & Stefan Nagel, 2011. "Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk Taking?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 373-416.
  3. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert & Jun Liu, 2000. "Why Stocks May Disappoint," NBER Working Papers 7783, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
  5. Thierry Post & Martijn J. van den Assem & Guido Baltussen & Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 38-71, March.
  6. Bellemare, Charles & Krause, Michaela & Kroger, Sabine & Zhang, Chendi, 2005. "Myopic loss aversion: Information feedback vs. investment flexibility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 319-324, June.
  7. Gordon, Stephen & St-Amour, Pascal, 1999. "A Preference Regime Model of Bull and Bear Markets," Cahiers de recherche 9906, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  8. Kareen Rozen, 2008. "Foundations of Intrinsic Habit Formation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002062, David K. Levine.
  9. Uzi Segal, 2000. "Two Stage Lotteries Without the Reduction Axiom," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7599, David K. Levine.
  10. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Shiri Artstein-Avidan & David Dillenberger, 2010. "Dynamic Disappointment Aversion: Don't Tell Me Anything Until You Know For Sure," PIER Working Paper Archive 10-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Thomas M. Eisenbach & Martin C. Schmalz, 2013. "Up close it feels dangerous: 'anxiety' in the face of risk," Staff Reports 610, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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