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Reference dependent ambiguity aversion: theory and experiment

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  • Qiu, Jianying
  • Weitzel, Utz

Abstract

In standard models of ambiguity, the evaluation of an ambiguous asset, as of a risky asset, is considered as an independent process. In this process only information directly pertaining to the ambiguous asset is used. These models face significant challenges from the finding that ambiguity aversion is more pronounced when an ambiguous asset is evaluated alongside a risky asset than in isolation. To explain this phenomenon, we developed a theoretical model based on reference dependence in probabilities. According to this model, individuals (1) form subjective beliefs on the potential winning probability of the ambiguous asset; (2) use the winning probability of the (simultaneously presented) risky asset as a reference point to evaluate the potential winning probabilities of the ambiguous asset; (3) code potential winning probabilities of the ambiguous asset that are greater than the reference point as gains and those that are smaller than the reference point as losses; (4) weight losses in probability heavier than gains in probability. We tested the crucial assumption, reference dependence in probabilities, in an experiment and found supporting evidence.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35289.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2011
Date of revision: 08 Dec 2011
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35289

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Keywords: Ambiguity Aversion; Reference Point; Comparison; Experiment;

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  1. 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.
  2. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  3. Peter P. Wakker, 2000. "Uncertainty aversion: a discussion of critical issues in health economics," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(3), pages 261-263.
  4. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. " Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
  5. Robert F. Nau, 2006. "Uncertainty Aversion with Second-Order Utilities and Probabilities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(1), pages 136-145, January.
  6. Peter Bossaerts & Paolo Ghirardato & Serena Guarnaschelli & William R. Zame, 2010. "Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1325-1359, April.
  7. Jonathan E. Alevy, 2011. "Ambiguity in Individual Choice and Market Environments: On the Importance of Comparative Ignorance," Working Papers 2011-04, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  8. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  9. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Aurelien Baillon & Laetitia Placido & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 695-723, April.
  10. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2005. "A Smooth Model of Decision Making under Ambiguity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1849-1892, November.
  11. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
  12. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  13. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Ralf Bergheim & Michael W.M. Roos, 2013. "Intuition and Reasoning in Choosing Ambiguous and Risky Lotteries," Ruhr Economic Papers 0440, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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