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A behavioral characterization of plausible priors


  • Siniscalchi, Marciano


Recent theories of choice under uncertainty represent ambiguity via multiple priors, informally interpreted as alternative probabilistic models of the uncertainty that the decision-maker considers equally plausible. This paper provides a robust behavioral foundation for this interpretation. A prior P is deemed “plausible” if (i) preferences over a subset C of acts are consistent with subjective expected utility (SEU), and (ii) jointly with an appropriate utility function, P provides the unique SEU representation of preferences over C. Under appropriate axioms, plausible priors can be elicited from preferences; moreover, if these axioms hold, (i) preferences are probabilistically sophisticated if and only if they are SEU, and (ii) under suitable consequentialism and dynamic consistency axioms, “plausible posteriors” can be derived from plausible priors via Bayes’ rule. Several well-known decision models are consistent with the axioms proposed here.
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  • Siniscalchi, Marciano, 2006. "A behavioral characterization of plausible priors," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 91-135, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:128:y:2006:i:1:p:91-135

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    Cited by:

    1. Siniscalchi, Marciano, 2011. "Dynamic choice under ambiguity," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(3), September.
    2. Tigran Melkonyan & Mark Pingle, 2010. "Ambiguity, pessimism, and rational religious choice," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 417-438, September.
    3. Marciano Siniscalchi, 2009. "Vector Expected Utility and Attitudes Toward Variation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 801-855, May.
    4. Amit Kothiyal & Vitalie Spinu & Peter Wakker, 2014. "An experimental test of prospect theory for predicting choice under ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 1-17, February.
    5. repec:eee:jetheo:v:171:y:2017:i:c:p:213-267 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ludwig, Alexander & Zimper, Alexander, 2006. "Investment behavior under ambiguity: The case of pessimistic decision makers," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 111-130, September.
    7. Jewitt, Ian & Mukerji, Sujoy, 2017. "Ordering ambiguous acts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 213-267.
    8. Hansen, Lars Peter & Maenhout, Pascal & Rustichini, Aldo & Sargent, Thomas J. & Siniscalchi, Marciano M., 2006. "Introduction to model uncertainty and robustness," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 1-3, May.
    9. Ehud Lehrer & Roee Teper, 2014. "Extension Rules or What Would the Sage Do?," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 5-22, February.
    10. Peter Klibanoff & Sujoy Mukerji & Kyoungwon Seo, 2014. "Perceived Ambiguity and Relevant Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 1945-1978, September.
    11. Zimper, Alexander, 2009. "Half empty, half full and why we can agree to disagree forever," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 283-299, August.
    12. Kostas Koufopoulos & Roman Kozhan, 2016. "Optimal insurance under adverse selection and ambiguity aversion," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 62(4), pages 659-687, October.
    13. Scott Condie & Jayant V. Ganguli, 2011. "Ambiguity and Rational Expectations Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 821-845.
    14. Chew, Soo Hong & Sagi, Jacob S., 2008. "Small worlds: Modeling attitudes toward sources of uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 139(1), pages 1-24, March.
    15. Dumav, Martin & Stinchcombe, Maxwell B., 2014. "The von Neumann/Morgenstern approach to ambiguity," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 480, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    16. Yehuda Izhakian & Zur Izhakian, 2015. "Decision making in phantom spaces," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 58(1), pages 59-98, January.
    17. Klaus Nehring, 2006. "Bernoulli Without Bayes: A Theory of Utility-Sophisticated Preferences under Ambiguity," Economics Working Papers 0072, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
    18. Scott Condie & Jayant Ganguli, 2011. "Informational efficiency with ambiguous information," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 48(2), pages 229-242, October.
    19. Tigran Melkonyan & Mark Pingle, 2008. "Ambiguity, Pessimism, and Religious Choice," Working Papers 08-002, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics;University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
    20. Rigotti, Luca & Shannon, Chris, 2012. "Sharing risk and ambiguity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(5), pages 2028-2039.
    21. Nehring, Klaus, 2009. "Imprecise probabilistic beliefs as a context for decision-making under ambiguity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1054-1091, May.
    22. Melkonyan, Tigran A., 2011. "The Effect of Communicating Ambiguous Risk Information on Choice," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 36(2), August.

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