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Cautious Expected Utility and the Certainty Effect

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  • Simone Cerreia-Vioglio

    ()
    (Department of Decision Sciences, Universit_a Bocconi)

  • David Dillenberger

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Pietro Ortoleva

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Columbia University)

Abstract

Many violations of the Independence axiom of Expected Utility can be traced to subjects' attraction to risk-free prospects. Negative Certainty Independence, the key axiom in this paper, formalizes this tendency. Our main result is a utility representation of all preferences over monetary lotteries that satisfy Negative Certainty Independence together with basic rationality postulates. Such preferences can be represented as if the agent were unsure of how risk averse to be when evaluating a lottery p; instead, she has in mind a set of possible utility functions over outcomes and displays a cautious behavior: she computes the certainty equivalent of p with respect to each possible function in the set and picks the smallest one. The set of utilities is unique in a well-defined sense. We show that our representation can also be derived from a `cautious' completion of an incomplete preference relation.

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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 13-037.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 09 Jul 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:13-037

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Keywords: Preferences under risk; Allais paradox; Negative Certainty Independence; Incomplete preferences; Cautious Completion; Multi-Utility representation.;

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