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Testing the Predictions of Decision Theories in a Natural Experiment When Half a Million Is at Stake

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  • Pavlo Blavatskyy
  • Ganna Pogrebna
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    Abstract

    In the television show Affari Tuoi an individual faces a sequence of binary choices between a risky lottery with equiprobable prizes of up to half a million euros and a monetary amount for certain. The decisions of 114 show participants are used to test the predictions of ten decision theories: risk neutrality, expected utility theory, fanning-out hypothesis (weighted utility theory, transitive skew-symmetric bilinear utility theory), (cumulative) prospect theory, regret theory, rank-dependent expected utility theory, Yaari’s dual model, prospective reference theory and disappointment aversion theory. Assumptions of risk neutrality and loss aversion are clearly violated, respectively, by 55% and 46% of all contestants. There appears to be no evidence of nonlinear probability weighting or disappointment aversion. Observed decisions are generally consistent with the assumption of regret aversion and there is strong evidence for the fanning-out hypothesis. Nevertheless, we find no behavioral patterns that cannot be reconciled within the expected utility framework (or prospective reference theory that gives identical predictions).

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 291.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:291

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    Keywords: decision theory; natural experiment; television show; expected utility; nonexpected utility;

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    1. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Schotman, Peter C, 2001. "Measuring Risk Attitudes in a Natural Experiment: Data from the Television Game Show Lingo," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 821-48, October.
    2. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-70, September.
    3. Bennett, Randall W. & Hickman, Kent A., 1993. "Rationality and the 'price is right'," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-105, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Nicolas de Roos & Yianis Sarafidis, 2010. "Decision making under risk in Deal or No Deal," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6), pages 987-1027.
    2. Jungmin Lee & Cary Deck & Javier Reyes & Chris Rosen, 2008. "Measuring Risk Attitudes Controlling for Personality Traits," Working Papers 0801, Florida International University, Department of Economics.

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