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Investigating Risky Choices Over Losses Using Experimental Data


  • Charles Mason


  • Jason Shogren
  • Chad Settle
  • John List


We conduct a battery of experiments in which agents make choices from several pairs of all-loss-lotteries. Using these choices, we estimate a representation of individual preferences over lotteries. We find statistically and economically significant departures from expected utility maximization for many subjects. We also estimate a preference representation based on summary statistics for behavior in the population of subjects, and again find departures from expected utility maximization. Our results suggest that public policies based on an expected utility approach could significantly underestimate preferences and willingness to pay for risk reduction. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Mason & Jason Shogren & Chad Settle & John List, 2005. "Investigating Risky Choices Over Losses Using Experimental Data," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 187-215, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:31:y:2005:i:2:p:187-215 DOI: 10.1007/s11166-005-3554-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory S. Berns & C. Monica Capra & Sara Moore & Charles Noussair, 2007. "A shocking experiment: New evidence on probability weighting and common ratio violations," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 234-242, August.
    2. List, John A. & Mason, Charles F., 2011. "Are CEOs expected utility maximizers?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 162(1), pages 114-123, May.
    3. Bosch-Domènech, Antoni & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2010. "Averting risk in the face of large losses: Bernoulli vs. Tversky and Kahneman," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 180-182, May.
    4. repec:eee:spacre:v:19:y:2016:i:1:p:55-76 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Marielle Brunette & Laure Cabantous & Stéphane Couture & Anne Stenger, 2013. "The impact of governmental assistance on insurance demand under ambiguity: a theoretical model and an experimental test," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(2), pages 153-174, August.
    6. John A. List & Michael S. Haigh, 2010. "Investment Under Uncertainty: Testing the Options Model with Professional Traders," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 974-984, November.
    7. Nathalie Etchart-Vincent & Olivier l’Haridon, 2011. "Monetary incentives in the loss domain and behavior toward risk: An experimental comparison of three reward schemes including real losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 61-83, February.
    8. Bartczak, Anna & Chilton, Susan & Meyerhoff, Jürgen, 2015. "Wildfires in Poland: The impact of risk preferences and loss aversion on environmental choices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 300-309.
    9. Nathalie Etchart-Vincent, 2009. "Probability weighting and the ‘level’ and ‘spacing’ of outcomes: An experimental study over losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 45-63, August.
    10. Peter Brooks & Simon Peters & Horst Zank, 2014. "Risk behavior for gain, loss, and mixed prospects," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 153-182, August.
    11. Cristina Ottaviani & Daniela Vandone, 2011. "Decision-making under uncertainty and demand for insurance: An empirical study," UNIMI - Research Papers in Economics, Business, and Statistics unimi-1108, Universitá degli Studi di Milano.
    12. 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.
    13. Richard T. Carson & Theodore Groves & John A. List, 2014. "Consequentiality: A Theoretical and Experimental Exploration of a Single Binary Choice," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 171-207.

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    risky decision-making; loss domain; experiments;


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