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History-Dependent Risk Attitude

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  • David Dillenberger

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kareen Rozen

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Yale University and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 11-004.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 14 Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:11-004

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Keywords: history-dependent risk attitude; statistically reversing risk attitudes; reinforcement effect; primacy effect; endogenous reference dependence; betweenness; optimism; pessimism;

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  1. Bellemare, C. & Krause, M. & Kroger, S. & Zhang, C., 2004. "Myopic Loss Aversion: Information Feedback vs. Investment Flexibility," Discussion Paper 2004-32, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Uzi Segal, 1989. "Two-Stage Lotteries Without the Reduction Axiom," UCLA Economics Working Papers 552, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Gordon, Stephen & St-Amour, Pascal, 1999. "A Preference Regime Model of Bull and Bear Markets," Cahiers de recherche 9906, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  5. Rozen, Kareen, 2008. "Foundations of Intrinsic Habit Formation," Working Papers 40, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Ang, Andrew & Bekaert, Geert & Liu, Jun, 2005. "Why stocks may disappoint," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 471-508, June.
  8. Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
  9. 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.
  10. Ulrike Malmendier & Stefan Nagel, 2009. "Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk-Taking?," NBER Working Papers 14813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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