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Past experience of uncertainty affects risk aversion

Author

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  • Friederike Mengel

    ()

  • Elias Tsakas
  • Alexander Vostroknutov

    ()

Abstract

In an experiment with more than 500 participants we study how past experience of uncertainty (imperfect knowledge of the state space) affects risk preferences. Participants in our experiment choose between a sure outcome and a lottery in 32 periods. All treatments are exactly identical in periods 17–32 but differ in periods 1–16. In the early periods of the risk treatment there is perfect information about the lottery; in the ambiguity Treatment participants perfectly know the outcome space but not the associated probabilities; in the unawareness treatment participants have imperfect knowledge about both outcomes and probabilities. We observe strong treatment effects on behavior in periods 17–32. In particular, participants who have been exposed to an environment with very imperfect knowledge of the state space subsequently choose lotteries with high (low) variance less (more) often compared to other participants. Estimating individual risk attitudes from choices in periods 17–32 we find that the distribution of risk attitude parameters across our treatments can be ranked in terms of first order stochastic dominance. Our results show how exposure to environments with different degrees of uncertainty can affect individuals’ subsequent risk-taking behavior. Copyright Economic Science Association 2016

Suggested Citation

  • Friederike Mengel & Elias Tsakas & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2016. "Past experience of uncertainty affects risk aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(1), pages 151-176, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:19:y:2016:i:1:p:151-176
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-015-9431-6
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10683-015-9431-6
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wenjun Ma & Burkhard C. Schipper, 2017. "Does exposure to unawareness affect risk preferences? A preliminary result," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(2), pages 245-257, August.
    2. Luca Zanin, 2017. "The effects of various motives to save money on the propensity of Italian households to allocate an unexpected inheritance towards consumption," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 51(4), pages 1755-1775, July.
    3. Karni, Edi & Vierø, Marie-Louise, 2017. "Awareness of unawareness: A theory of decision making in the face of ignorance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 301-328.
    4. Jetter, Michael & Magnusson, Leandro M. & Roth, Sebastian, 2020. "Becoming sensitive: Males’ risk and time preferences after the 2008 financial crisis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    5. Husted, Lucas & Rogers, John & Sun, Bo, 2018. "Uncertainty, currency excess returns, and risk reversals," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 228-241.
    6. Ateşağaoğlu, Orhan Erem & Torul, Orhan, 2018. "Optimal Ramsey taxation with endogenous risk aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 87-92.
    7. Tai-Sen He & Fuhai Hong, 2018. "Risk breeds risk aversion," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(4), pages 815-835, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk preferences; Ambiguity; Unawareness; Experiments; D80; D81; C91;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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