The Independence Axiom and the Bipolar Behaviorist
AbstractDevelopments in the theory of risk require yet another evaluation of the behavioral validity of the independence axiom. This axiom plays a central role in most formal statements of expected utility theory, as well as popular alternative models of decision-making under risk, such as rank-dependent utility theory. It also plays a central role in experiments used to characterize the way in which risk preferences deviate from expected utility theory. If someone claims that individuals behave as if they "probability weight" outcomes, and hence violate the independence axiom, it is invariably on the basis of experiments that must assume the independence axiom. We refer to this as the Bipolar Behavioral Hypothesis: behavioral economists are pessimistic about the axiom when it comes to characterizing how individuals directly evaluate two lotteries in a binary choice task, but are optimistic about the axiom when it comes to characterizing how individuals evaluate multiple lotteries that make up the incentive structure for a multiple-task experiment. Building on designs that have a long tradition in experimental economics, we offer direct tests of the axiom and the evidence for probability weighting. We reject the Bipolar Behavioral Hypothesis: we find that nonparametric preferences estimated for the rank-dependent utility model are significantly affected when one elicits choices with procedures that require the independence assumption, as compared to choices with procedures that do not require that assumption. We also demonstrate this result with familiar parametric preference specifications, and draw general implications for the empirical evaluation of theories about risk.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2012-01.
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-01-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-EVO-2012-01-18 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2012-01-18 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-HPE-2012-01-18 (History & Philosophy of Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2012-01-18 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-UPT-2012-01-18 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Fan, Chinn-Ping, 2002. "Allais paradox in the small," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 411-421, November.
- Burke, Michael S, et al, 1996. "An Experimental Note on the Allais Paradox and Monetary Incentives," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 617-32.
- Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
- Lionel Page & David A. Savage & Benno Torgler, 2013. "Variation in risk seeking behavior following large losses: A natural experiment," QuBE Working Papers 007, QUT Business School.
- Glenn W. Harrison & Jimmy MartÃnez-Correa & J. Todd Swarthout & Eric R. Ulm, 2012. "Scoring Rules for Subjective Probability Distributions," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2012-18, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
- Glenn W. Harrison & Jimmy MartÃnez-Correa & J. Todd Swarthout & Eric R. Ulm, 2013. "Scoring Rules for Subjective Probability Distributions," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2013-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
- Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2013.
"A Theoretical and Experimental Appraisal of Five Risk Elicitation Methods,"
SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research
547, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
- Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2013. "A Theoretical and Experimental Appraisal of Five Risk Elicitation Methods," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-009, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
- Drichoutis, Andreas & Nayga, Rodolfo, 2013. "A reconciliation of time preference elicitation methods," MPRA Paper 46916, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 12 May 2013.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (J. Todd Swarthout).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.