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Perception of probabilities in situations of risk: A case based approach


  • Gayer, Gabrielle


This paper provides a description of a possible mental process individuals go through in their attempt to comprehend stated probabilities in simple lotteries. The evaluation of probabilities is based on the following main components: lotteries encountered in the past, the realizations of these lotteries, and the similarity between stated probabilities. A probability is evaluated based on the experienced relative frequencies of outcomes that had that stated probability, as well as outcomes of other lotteries that had similar stated probabilities. This process may result in distortion of probabilities as observed in the literature, and in particular, in overvaluing low probabilities and undervaluing high probabilities. If the decision maker uses a less permissive similarity function as the size of memory grows, she will learn the real value of the stated probabilities. If, however, the similarity function is independent of memory, biases persist even when data are accumulated.

Suggested Citation

  • Gayer, Gabrielle, 2010. "Perception of probabilities in situations of risk: A case based approach," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 130-143, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:1:p:130-143

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Chew, Soo Hong, 1983. "A Generalization of the Quasilinear Mean with Applications to the Measurement of Income Inequality and Decision Theory Resolving the Allais Paradox," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1065-1092, July.
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    7. 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.
    8. Antoine Billot & Itzhak Gilboa & Dov Samet & David Schmeidler, 2005. "Probabilities as Similarity-Weighted Frequencies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1125-1136, July.
    9. Itzhak Gilboa & Offer Lieberman & David Schmeidler, 2006. "Empirical Similarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 433-444, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aurélien Baillon & Laure Cabantous & Peter Wakker, 2012. "Aggregating imprecise or conflicting beliefs: An experimental investigation using modern ambiguity theories," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 115-147, April.
    2. Davide Marchiori & Sibilla Di Guida & Ido Erev, 2013. "Noisy retrievers and the four-fold reaction to rare events," Working Papers 3, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.


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