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Do People Make Decisions Under Risk Based on Ignorance? An Empirical Test of the Priority Heuristic against Cumulative Prospect Theory

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  • Andreas Glöckner

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Tilmann Betsch

    (University of Erfurt)

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    Abstract

    Brandstätter, Gigerenzer and Hertwig (2006) put forward the priority heuristic (PH) as a fast and frugal heuristic for decisions under risk. According to the PH, individuals do not make trade-offs between gains and probabilities, as proposed by expected utility models such as cumulative prospect theory (CPT), but use information in a non-compensatory manner and ignore information. We conducted three studies to test the PH empirically by analyzing individual choice patterns, decision times and information search parameters in diagnostic decision tasks. Results on all three dependent variables conflict with the predictions of the PH and can be better explained by the CPT. The predictive accuracy of the PH was high for decision tasks in which the predic-tions align with the predictions of the CPT but very low for decision tasks in which this was not the case. The findings indicate that earlier results supporting the PH might have been caused by the selection of decision tasks that were not diagnostic for the PH as compared to CPT.

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    File URL: http://www.coll.mpg.de/pdf_dat/2008_05online.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2008_05.

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    Length: 41 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2008_5

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    Related research

    Keywords: Decision Strategy; Fast and Frugal Heuristics; Bounded Rationality; Decision Latency; Process Tracing; Cumulative Prospect Theory;

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    1. Glimcher, Paul W. & Dorris, Michael C. & Bayer, Hannah M., 2005. "Physiological utility theory and the neuroeconomics of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 213-256, August.
    2. Lohse, Gerald L. & Johnson, Eric J., 1996. "A Comparison of Two Process Tracing Methods for Choice Tasks," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 28-43, October.
    3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    4. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
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