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Ambiguity Models and the Machina Paradoxes


  • Aurelien Baillon
  • Olivier L'Haridon
  • Laetitia Placido


Machina (2009) introduced two examples that falsify Choquet expected utility, presently one of the most popular models of ambiguity. This article shows that Machina's examples falsify not only the model mentioned, but also four other popular models for ambiguity of the literature, namely maxmin expected utility, variational preferences, α-maxmin, and the smooth model of ambiguity aversion. Thus, Machina's examples pose a challenge to most of the present field of ambiguity. Finally, the paper discusses how an alternative representation of ambiguity-averse preferences works to accommodate the Machina paradoxes and what drives the results. (JEL D81)

Suggested Citation

  • Aurelien Baillon & Olivier L'Haridon & Laetitia Placido, 2011. "Ambiguity Models and the Machina Paradoxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1547-1560, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:4:p:1547-60

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Marciano Siniscalchi, 2009. "Vector Expected Utility and Attitudes Toward Variation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 801-855, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chambers, Robert G. & Grant, Simon & Polak, Ben & Quiggin, John, 2014. "A two-parameter model of dispersion aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 611-641.
    2. Jianying Qiu & Utz Weitzel, 2016. "Experimental evidence on valuation with multiple priors," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 55-74, August.
    3. Aurelien Baillon & Olivier L'Haridon & Laetitia Placido, 2011. "Ambiguity Models and the Machina Paradoxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1547-1560, June.
    4. Haven, Emmanuel & Sozzo, Sandro, 2016. "A generalized probability framework to model economic agents' decisions under uncertainty," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 297-303.
    5. repec:eee:jetheo:v:171:y:2017:i:c:p:213-267 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Mayumi Horie, 2016. "Bayesian Updating for Complementarily Additive Beliefs under Ambiguity," KIER Working Papers 935, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    7. Ehud Lehrer & Roee Tepper, 2013. "Concave Expected Utility and Event Separability," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000809, David K. Levine.
    8. Peysakhovich, Alexander & Naecker, Jeffrey, 2017. "Using methods from machine learning to evaluate behavioral models of choice under risk and ambiguity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 373-384.
    9. Hammond, Peter J & Zank, Horst, 2013. "Rationality and Dynamic Consistency under Risk and Uncertainty," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1033, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    10. Nascimento, Leandro, 2012. "The ex-ante aggregation of opinions under uncertainty," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 7(3), September.
    11. Diederik Aerts & Emmanuel Haven & Sandro Sozzo, 2016. "A Proposal to Extend Expected Utility in a Quantum Probabilistic Framework," Papers 1612.08583,
    12. Roee Teper, 2015. "Subjective Independence and Concave Expected Utility," Working Paper 5865, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    13. Jewitt, Ian & Mukerji, Sujoy, 2017. "Ordering ambiguous acts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 213-267.
    14. José Lara Resende & George Wu, 2010. "Competence effects for choices involving gains and losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 109-132, April.
    15. Laurent Denant-Boemont & Olivier L’Haridon, 2013. "La rationalité à l'épreuve de l'économie comportementale," Revue française d'économie, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(2), pages 35-89.
    16. Mark J. Machina, 2014. "Ambiguity Aversion with Three or More Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3814-3840, December.
    17. Blavatskyy, Pavlo R., 2013. "Two examples of ambiguity aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 206-208.
    18. Epper, Thomas & Fehr-Duda, Helga, 2017. "A Tale of Two Tails: On the Coexistence of Overweighting and Underweighting of Rare Extreme Events," Economics Working Paper Series 1705, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    19. Simone Cerreia-Vioglio & Paolo Ghirardato & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci & Marciano Siniscalchi, 2011. "Rational preferences under ambiguity," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 48(2), pages 341-375, October.
    20. Huang, Rachel J. & Huang, Yi-Chieh & Tzeng, Larry Y., 2013. "Insurance bargaining under ambiguity," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 812-820.
    21. David Dillenberger & Uzi Segal, 2015. "Recursive Ambiguity And Machina'S Examples," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 56, pages 55-61, February.
    22. Kops, Christopher & Borah, Abhinash, 2014. "Preferences under Ambiguity Without Event-Separability," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100629, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    23. Enrico G. De Giorgi & David B. Brown & Melvyn Sim, 2010. "Dual representation of choice and aspirational preferences," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-07, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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