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Reflections on gains and losses: A 2x2x7 experiment

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Abstract

We test whether risk attitudes change when losses instead of gains are involved. The study of gain-loss asymmetries has been largely confined to “reflected” choices, where all the money amounts of a positive prospect are multiplied by minus one. We define the decomposition “reflection = translation + probability switch,” and experimentally find both a translation effect (risk attraction becomes more frequent when gains are translated into losses) and a probability switch effect (risk attraction becomes more frequent when the probability of the best outcome decreases). Surprisingly, the switch effect is somewhat stronger than the translation effect, negating a conventional reflection effect when one starts with choices between gains with a low probability of the best outcome. We conclude by arguing that, while both the translation effect and the switch effect contradict the expected utility hypothesis, the translation effect implies a deeper violation of standard preference theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 640.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision: Feb 2005
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:640

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Reflection effect; risk attraction; risk aversion; gains; losses; experiments; Leex;

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References

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  1. Machina, Mark J, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 277-323, March.
  2. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 1999. "Does risk aversion or attraction depend on income? An experiment," Economics Working Papers 361, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 1999.
  3. Myagkov, Mikhail & Plott, Charles R, 1997. "Exchange Economies and Loss Exposure: Experiments Exploring Prospect Theory and Competitive Equilibria in Market Environments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 801-28, December.
  4. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the Wealthy Risk More Money? An Experimental Comparison," Discussion Papers 03-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 1999. "Risk attitudes of children and adults: choices over small and large probability gains and losses," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 1999-2, University of Oregon Economics Department.
  6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  7. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  8. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
  9. Larson, Douglas M., 1992. "Further results on willingness to pay for nonmarket goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 101-122, September.
  10. William Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "Risk attitudes of children and adults: Choices over small and large probability gains and losses," Artefactual Field Experiments 00055, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Susan K. Laury & Charles A. Holt, 2005. "Further Reflections on Prospect Theory," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-23, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  12. Robin M. Hogarth & Hillel J. Einhorn, 1990. "Venture Theory: A Model of Decision Weights," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(7), pages 780-803, July.
  13. Keasey, Kevin & Moon, Philip, 1996. "Gambling with the house money in capital expenditure decisions: An experimental analysis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 105-110, January.
  14. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  15. 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.
  16. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "The Utility of Wealth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 151.
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Cited by:
  1. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2006. "Risk aversion and embedding bias," Economics Working Papers 934, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Rick Harbaugh, 2005. "Prospect Theory or Skill Signaling?," Working Papers 2005-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  3. Bosch-Domènech, Antoni & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2010. "Averting risk in the face of large losses: Bernoulli vs. Tversky and Kahneman," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 180-182, May.
  4. Antoni Bosch & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the Wealthy Risk More Money? An Experimental Comparison," Working Papers 10, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the eealthy risk more money? An experimental comparison," Economics Working Papers 692, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2005.
  6. Chakravarty, Sugato & Jain, Pankaj & Upson, James & Wood, Robert, 2012. "Clean Sweep: Informed Trading through Intermarket Sweep Orders," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(02), pages 415-435, April.
  7. De Giorgi, Enrico & Hens, Thorsten & Post, Thierry, 2005. "Prospect Theory and the Size and Value Premium Puzzles," Discussion Papers 2005/20, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.

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