IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Making Descriptive Use of Prospect Theory to Improve the Prescriptive Use of Expected Utility

  • Han Bleichrodt


    (iMTA, Erasmus University, P.O. Box 1738, Rotterdam, 3000 DR, The Netherlands)

  • Jose Luis Pinto


    (Department of Economics, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27, 08005, Barcelona, Spain)

  • Peter P. Wakker


    (Medical Decision Making Unit, LUMC, P.O. Box 9600, Leiden, 2300 RC, The Netherlands)

This paper proposes a quantitative modification of standard utility elicitation procedures, such as the probability and certainty equivalence methods, to correct for commonly observed violations of expected utility. Traditionally, decision analysis assumes expected utility not only for the prescriptive purpose of calculating optimal decisions but also for the descriptive purpose of eliciting utilities. However, descriptive violations of expected utility bias utility elicitations. That such biases are effective became clear when systematic discrepancies were found between different utility elicitation methods that, under expected utility, should have yielded identical utilities. As it is not clear how to correct for these biases without further knowledge of their size or nature, most utility elicitations still calculate utilities by means of the expected utility formula. This paper speculates on the biases and their sizes by using the quantitative assessments of probability transformation and loss aversion suggested by prospect theory. It presents quantitative corrections for the probability and certainty equivalence methods. If interactive sessions to correct for biases are not possible, then the authors propose to use the corrected utilities rather than the uncorrected ones in prescriptions of optimal decisions. In an experiment, the discrepancies between the probability and certainty equivalence methods are removed by the authors' proposal.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 47 (2001)
Issue (Month): 11 (November)
Pages: 1498-1514

in new window

Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:47:y:2001:i:11:p:1498-1514
Contact details of provider: Postal:
7240 Parkway Drive, Suite 300, Hanover, MD 21076 USA

Phone: +1-443-757-3500
Fax: 443-757-3515
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:47:y:2001:i:11:p:1498-1514. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.