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The role of intuition and reasoning in driving aversion to risk and ambiguity

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  • Jeffrey V. Butler
  • Luigi Guiso
  • Tullio Jappelli

Abstract

Using information on a large sample of retail investors and experimental data we find that risk aversion and risk ambiguity are correlated: individuals who dislike risk also dislike ambiguity. We show that what links these traits is the way people handle decisions. Intuitive thinkers are less averse to risk and less averse to ambiguity than individuals who base their decisions on effortful reasoning. We confirm this finding in a series of experiments. One interpretation of our results is that the high-speed of intuitive thinking puts intuitive thinkers at a comparative advantage in situations involving high risk and ambiguity, making them less averse to both. Consistent with this view we show evidence from the field and from the lab that intuitive thinkers perform better than deliberative thinkers when making decisions in highly ambiguous and risky environments. We also find that attitudes toward risk and ambiguity are related to different individual characteristics and wealth. While the wealthy are less averse to risk, they dislike ambiguity more, a finding that has implications for financial puzzles.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2011/13.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2011/13

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Keywords: Risk Aversion; Risk Ambiguity; Decision Theory; Dual Systems; Intuitive Thinking;

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References

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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2010. "Ambiguity and Asset Markets," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 315-346, December.
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  4. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," Research Memorandum 040, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
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  6. Michèle Cohen & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2009. "An experimental investigation of imprecision attitude and its relation with risk attitude and impatience," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 09029, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  7. Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2009. "Heterogeneity in Risky Choice Behaviour in a Broad Population," IZA Discussion Papers 4022, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Donkers, A.C.D. & Melenberg, B. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1999. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries; A Large Sample Approach," Discussion Paper 1999-12, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  9. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2002. "A smooth model of decision making under ambiguity," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 11-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research, revised Apr 2003.
  10. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
  11. Sujoy Chakravarty & Jaideep Roy, 2009. "Recursive expected utility and the separation of attitudes towards risk and ambiguity: an experimental study," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 66(3), pages 199-228, March.
  12. David Ahn & Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2008. "Estimating Ambiguity Aversion in a Portfolio Choice Experiment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001989, David K. Levine.
  13. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Role of Intuition and Reasoning in Driving Aversion to Risk and Ambiguity
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2011-04-18 02:00:42
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Cited by:
  1. Butler, Jeffrey V. & Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2013. "Manipulating reliance on intuition reduces risk and ambiguity aversion," CFS Working Paper Series 2013/13, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  2. Guiso, Luigi & Sodini, Paolo, 2012. "Household Finance: An Emerging Field," CEPR Discussion Papers 8934, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Michèle Cohen & Jean-Marc Tallon & Jean-Christophe Vergnaud, 2011. "An experimental investigation of imprecision attitude and its relation with risk attitude and impatience," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 71(1), pages 81-109, July.
  4. Luigi Guiso, 2008. "A Test of Narrow Framing and its Origin," EIEF Working Papers Series 0818, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Dec 2008.
  5. Oechssler, Jörg & Roomets, Alex, 2014. "A Test of Mechanical Ambiguity," Working Papers 0555, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  6. Michalis Drouvelis & Julian C. Jamison, 2012. "Selecting public goods institutions: who likes to punish and reward?," Working Papers 12-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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