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The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach

  • Segal, Uzi

The paper describes a decision process under which it is rational to prefer a lottery with known probabilities to a similar ambiguous lottery where the decision maker does not know the exact values of the probabilities (the "Ellsberg paradox"). This is done by modeling ambiguous lotteries as two-stage lotteries, by assuming the independence axiom without the reduction of compound lotteries axiom, and by using the anticipated utility functional. This paper also gives conditions under which less ambiguity is preferred and presents some comparative statics analysis as well as some inter-personal comparisons. Finally, it proves that within the anticipated utility framework, risk and ambiguity are almost identical. Copyright 1987 by Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 28 (1987)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 175-202

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:28:y:1987:i:1:p:175-202
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  1. Robert A. Jones & Joseph M. Ostroy, 1979. "Flexibilty and Uncertainty," UCLA Economics Working Papers 163, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  3. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  4. Mossin, Jan, 1969. "A Note on Uncertainty and Preferences in a Temporal Context," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 172-74, March.
  5. Sherman, Roger, 1974. "The Psychological Difference Between Ambiguity and Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 166-69, February.
  6. Mark J Machina, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7650, David K. Levine.
  7. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1989. " Risk, Ambiguity, and Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-35, April.
  8. David M Kreps & Evan L Porteus, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000009, David K. Levine.
  9. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  10. Schoemaker, Paul J H, 1982. "The Expected Utility Model: Its Variants, Purposes, Evidence and Limitations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 529-63, June.
  11. Uzi Segal, 1984. "Nonlinear Decision Weights with the Independence Axiom," UCLA Economics Working Papers 353, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  13. Smith, Vernon L, 1969. "Measuring Nonmonetary Utilities in Uncertain Choices: The Ellsberg Urn," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 324-29, May.
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