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Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes

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  • Viscusi, W Kip

Abstract

This article develops a variant of the expected utility model termed prospective reference theory. Although the standard model occurs as a limiting case, the general approach is that individuals treat stated experimental probabilities as imperfect information. This model is applied to a wide variety of aberrant phenomena, including the Allais paradox, the overweighting of low-probability events, the existence of premiums for certain elimination of risks, and the representativeness heuristic. The prospective reference theory model predicts most of the observed behavioral patterns rather than being potentially reconcilable with such phenomena. Copyright 1989 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. "Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 235-263, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:2:y:1989:i:3:p:235-63
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