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Measuring the Utility of Losses by Means of the Tradeoff Method


  • Fennema, Hein
  • van Assen, Marcel


This paper investigates the shape of the utility function for losses. From a rational point of view it can be argued that utility should be concave. Empirically, measurements of the utility for losses show mixed results but most evidence supports convex rather than concave utilities. However, these measurements use methods that are either biased by the certainty effect or require complex parametrical estimations. This paper re-examines utility for losses, avoiding the mentioned pitfalls by using the tradeoff method. We find that utility for losses is convex. This is contrary to common assumption in the economics literature. Also, we investigate properties of the tradeoff method showing a new violation of procedure invariance. Our findings demonstrate that diminishing sensitivity is an important phenomenon for utility elicitation. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Fennema, Hein & van Assen, Marcel, 1998. "Measuring the Utility of Losses by Means of the Tradeoff Method," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 277-295, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:17:y:1998:i:3:p:277-95

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francis Su, "undated". "Rental Harmony: Sperner's Lemma in Fair Division," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 1999-10, Claremont Colleges.
    2. Kalai, Ehud & Smorodinsky, Meir, 1975. "Other Solutions to Nash's Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 513-518, May.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Booij, Adam S. & van de Kuilen, Gijs, 2009. "A parameter-free analysis of the utility of money for the general population under prospect theory," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 651-666, August.
    2. Adam Booij & Bernard Praag & Gijs Kuilen, 2010. "A parametric analysis of prospect theory’s functionals for the general population," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 115-148, February.
    3. Pavlo Blavatskyy, 2006. "Error Propagation in the Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 315-334, May.
    4. Michael H. Birnbaum & Jeffrey P. Bahra, 2007. "Gain-Loss Separability and Coalescing in Risky Decision Making," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 1016-1028, June.
    5. Marc Scholten & Daniel Read, 2014. "Prospect theory and the “forgotten” fourfold pattern of risk preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 67-83, February.
    6. Peter Wakker & Veronika Köbberling & Christiane Schwieren, 2007. "Prospect-theory’s Diminishing Sensitivity Versus Economics’ Intrinsic Utility of Money: How the Introduction of the Euro can be Used to Disentangle the Two Empirically," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 205-231, November.
    7. Flores, Gabriela & O’Donnell, Owen, 2016. "Catastrophic medical expenditure risk," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-15.
    8. Wong, Wing-Keung, 2007. "Stochastic dominance and mean-variance measures of profit and loss for business planning and investment," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 182(2), pages 829-843, October.
    9. repec:bla:rgscpp:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:177-195 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Corina Paraschiv, 2007. "Loss Aversion Under Prospect Theory: A Parameter-Free Measurement," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(10), pages 1659-1674, October.
    11. Jou, Rong-Chang & Chen, Ke-Hong, 2013. "An application of cumulative prospect theory to freeway drivers’ route choice behaviours," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 123-131.
    12. Han Bleichrodt & Alessandra Cillo & Enrico Diecidue, 2010. "A Quantitative Measurement of Regret Theory," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(1), pages 161-175, January.
    13. Wakker, Peter P. & Zank, Horst, 2002. "A simple preference foundation of cumulative prospect theory with power utility," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(7), pages 1253-1271, July.
    14. Glenn W. Harrison & J. Todd Swarthout, 2016. "Cumulative Prospect Theory in the Laboratory: A Reconsideration," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2016-04, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    15. Dennery, Charles & Direr, Alexis, 2014. "Optimal lottery," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 15-23.
    16. Coelho, Luís Alberto Godinho & Pires, Cesaltina Maria Pacheco & Dionísio, Andreia Teixeira & Serrão, Amílcar Joaquim da Conceição, 2012. "The impact of CAP policy in farmer's behavior – A modeling approach using the Cumulative Prospect Theory," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 81-98.
    17. Davies, G.B. & Satchell, S.E., 2004. "Continuous Cumulative Prospect Theory and Individual Asset Allocation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0467, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    18. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
    19. 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.
    20. Gheyssens, Jonathan & Günther, Isabel, 2012. "Risk Experiments in Gains and Losses: A Case Study for Benin," WIDER Working Paper Series 038, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    21. Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.

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