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A Bayesian Approach to Uncentainty Aversion

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  • Yoram Halevy
  • Vincent Feltkamp

Abstract

The Ellsberg paradox demonstrates that people's belief over uncertain events might not be representable by subjective probability. We argue that Uncertainty Aversion may be viewed as a case of "Rule Rationality''. This paradigm claims that people's decision making has evolved to simple rules that perform well in most regular environments. Such an environment consists of replicas of some basic singular circumstance. When the rule is applied to a singular environment, the behavior may seem paradoxical. We claim that the regular environment in which decisions under uncertainty take place, is described by one decision that spans multiple ambiguous risks, which are positively correlated. We show that when a risk averse individual has a Bayesian prior and uses a rule, which is optimal for the regular ambiguous environment, to evaluate a singular vague circumstance - his behavior will exhibit uncertainty aversion. Thus, the behavior predicted by Ellsberg may be explained within the Bayesian expected utility paradigm.

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Paper provided by University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences in its series CARESS Working Papres with number 99-03.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennca:99-03

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  1. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  2. Uzi Segal, 1985. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," UCLA Economics Working Papers 362, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  4. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
  5. Sarin, Rakesh & Wakker, Peter, 1997. "A Single-Stage Approach to Anscombe and Aumann's Expected Utility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 399-409, July.
  6. Aumann, Robert J., 1997. "Rationality and Bounded Rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 2-14, October.
  7. Machina,Mark & Schmeidler,David, 1991. "A more robust definition of subjective probability," Discussion Paper Serie A 365, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. 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.
  9. Larry Epstein, 1997. "Uncertainty Aversion," Working Papers epstein-97-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  10. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  11. Sarin, Rakesh K & Wakker, Peter, 1992. "A Simple Axiomatization of Nonadditive Expected Utility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1255-72, November.
  12. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  13. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
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Cited by:
  1. David Cooper & David Johnson, 2013. "Ambiguity in Performance Pay: An Online Experiment," Working Papers 2013-27, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 14 Nov 2013.
  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. Yang, Chun-Lei & Yao, Lan, 2011. "Ellsberg Paradox and Second-order Preference Theories on Ambiguity: Some New Experimental Evidence," MPRA Paper 28531, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Takashi Kamihigashi & John Stachurski, 2014. "Partial Stochastic Dominance," Discussion Paper Series DP2014-23, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  5. Rasmusen, Eric, 2010. "Career concerns and ambiguity aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 175-177, August.
  6. Zvi Safra & Uzi Segal, 2005. "Are Universal Preferences Possible? Calibration Results for Non-Expected Utility Theories," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 633, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Mark Dean & Pietro Ortoleva, 2012. "Allais, Ellsberg, and Preferences for Hedging," Working Papers 2012-2, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Gregory DeAngelo & Gary Charness, 2012. "Deterrence, expected cost, uncertainty and voting: Experimental evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 73-100, February.
  9. Pierre Fleckinger, 2007. "On Multiagent Moral Hazard under Technological Uncertainty," Working Papers hal-00240716, HAL.
  10. Christoph Kuzmics, 2012. "Inferring preferences from choices under uncertainty," Working Papers 462, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  11. Al-Najjar, Nabil I. & Weinstein, Jonathan, 2013. "A Bayesian Model of Knightian Uncertainty," Economics Series 300, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  12. Alfred Müller & Marco Scarsini, 2002. "Even Risk-Averters may Love Risk," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 52(1), pages 81-99, February.

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