Towards a Purely Behavioral Definition of Loss Aversion
AbstractThis paper suggests a behavioral, preference-based definition of loss aversion for decision under risk. This definition is based on the initial intuition of Markowitz  and Kahneman and Tversky  that most individuals dislike symmetric bets, and that the aversion to such bets increases with the size of the stake. A natural interpretation of this intuition leads to defining loss aversion as a particular kind of risk aversion. The notions of weak loss aversion and strong loss aversion are introduced, by analogy to the notions of weak and strong risk aversion. I then show how the proposed definitions naturally extend those of Kahneman and Tversky , Schmidt and Zank , and Zank . The implications of these definitions under Cumulative Prospect Theory (PT) and Expected-Utility Theory (EUT) are examined. In particular, I show that in EUT loss aversion is not equivalent to the utility function having an S shape: loss aversion in EUT holds for a class of utility functions that includes S-shaped functions, but is strictly larger than the collection of these functions. This class also includes utility functions that are of the Friedman-Savage  type over both gains and losses, and utility functions such as the one postulated by Markowitz . Finally, I discuss possible ways in which one can define an index of loss aversion for preferences that satisfy certain conditions. These conditions are satisfied by preferences having a PT-representation or an EUT-representation. Under PT, the proposed index is shown to coincide with Kobberling and Wakker’s  index of loss aversion only when the probability weights for gains and losses are equal. In Appendix B, I consider some extensions of the study done in this paper, one of which is an extension to situations of decision under uncertainty with probabilistically sophisticated preferences, in the sense of Machina and Schmeidler .
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 University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 37628.
Date of creation: 11 Aug 2011
Date of revision: 23 Mar 2012
Loss Aversion; Risk Aversion; Mean-Preserving Increase in Risk; Prospect Theory; Probability Weights; S-Shaped Utility;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics; Underlying Principles
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-04-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2012-04-03 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2012-04-03 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2012-04-03 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-UPT-2012-04-03 (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.:
- Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
- R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010.
"The equity premium: a puzzle,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
1401, David K. Levine.
- Matthew Rabin, 2006.
"A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165, November.
- Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Machina, Mark J & Schmeidler, David, 1992.
"A More Robust Definition of Subjective Probability,"
Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 745-80, July.
- Machina,Mark & Schmeidler,David, 1991. "A more robust definition of subjective probability," Discussion Paper Serie A 365, University of Bonn, Germany.
- Mark J. Machina & David Schmeidler, 1990. "A More Robust Definition of Subjective Probability," Discussion Paper Serie A 306, University of Bonn, Germany.
- José Apesteguía & Miguel A. Ballester, 2004.
"A Theory Of Reference-Dependent Beavior,"
Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de EconomÃa - Universidad PÃºblica de Navarra
0402, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
- Jose Apesteguia & Miguel A. Ballester, 2007. "A Theory of Reference-Dependent Behavior," Working Papers 323, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Jose Apesteguia & Miguel A. Ballester, 2007. "A theory of reference-dependent behavior," Economics Working Papers 1056, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
- Frederick Mosteller & Philip Nogee, 1951. "An Experimental Measurement of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 371.
- Dana, Rose-Anne & Carlier, Guillaume, 2011. "Optimal Demand for Contingent Claims when Agents have law Invariant Utilities," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/2317, Paris Dauphine University.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2009. "Reference-Dependent Consumption Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 909-36, June.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- Neilson, William S, 2002. " Comparative Risk Sensitivity with Reference-Dependent Preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 131-42, March.
- Masatlioglu, Yusufcan & Ok, Efe A., 2005. "Rational choice with status quo bias," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 1-29, March.
- Mark J. Machina & David Schmeidler, 1994.
"Bayes Without Bernoulli: Simple Conditions for Probabilistically Sophisticated Choice,"
1088, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Machina Mark J. & Schmeidler David, 1995. "Bayes without Bernoulli: Simple Conditions for Probabilistically Sophisticated Choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 106-128, October.
- Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
- Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
- Bernard, Carole & Ghossoub, Mario, 2009. "Static Portfolio Choice under Cumulative Prospect Theory," MPRA Paper 15446, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- 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.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006.
"Reference-Dependent Risk Attitudes,"
122247000000001267, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Ortoleva, Pietro, 2008.
"Status Quo Bias, Multiple Priors and Uncertainty Aversion,"
12243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Ortoleva, Pietro, 2010. "Status quo bias, multiple priors and uncertainty aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 411-424, July.
- U Schmidt & H Zank, 2002.
"What is Loss Aversion?,"
The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series
0209, Economics, The University of Manchester.
- Xue Dong He & Xun Yu Zhou, 2011. "Portfolio Choice Under Cumulative Prospect Theory: An Analytical Treatment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(2), pages 315-331, February.
- Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151.
- Bowman, David & Minehart, Deborah & Rabin, Matthew, 1999.
"Loss aversion in a consumption-savings model,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 155-178, February.
- Pavlo Blavatskyy, 2011. "Loss aversion," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 127-148, January.
- Knetsch, Jack L & Sinden, J A, 1984. "Willingness to Pay and Compensation Demanded: Experimental Evidence of an Unexpected Disparity in Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 99(3), pages 507-21, August.
- Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993.
"Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle,"
NBER Working Papers
4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
- Hadar, Josef & Russell, William R, 1969. "Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 25-34, March.
- Wakker, Peter & Tversky, Amos, 1993. " An Axiomatization of Cumulative Prospect Theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 147-75, October.
- Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Tano Santos, 2001. "Prospect Theory And Asset Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 1-53, February.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.