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

Are risk preferences stable? Comparing an experimental measure with a validated survey-based measure

  • Lisa Anderson
  • Jennifer Mellor


We examine the stability of risk preference within subjects by comparing measures obtained from two elicitation methods, an economics experiment with real monetary rewards and a survey with questions on hypothetical gambles. The survey questions have been validated by numerous empirical studies of investment, insurance demand, smoking and alcohol use, and recent studies have shown the experimental measure is associated with several real-world risky behaviors. For the majority of subjects, we find that risk preferences are not stable across elicitation methods. In interval regression models, subjects’ risk preference classifications from survey questions on job-based gambles are not associated with risk preference estimates from the experiment. However, we find that risk classifications from inheritance-based gambles are significantly associated with the experimental measure. We identify some subjects for whom risk preference estimates are more strongly correlated across elicitation methods, suggesting that unobserved subject traits like comprehension or effort influence risk preference stability.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Volume (Year): 39 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 137-160

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:39:y:2009:i:2:p:137-160
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kimball, Miles S & Sahm, Claudia R & Shapiro, Matthew D, 2008. "Imputing Risk Tolerance From Survey Responses," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(483), pages 1028-1038.
  2. Glenn W Harrison & John A List & Charles Towe, 2007. "Naturally Occurring Preferences and Exogenous Laboratory Experiments: A Case Study of Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 433-458, 03.
  3. Kajal Lahiri & Jae G. Song, 2000. "The effect of smoking on health using a sequential self-selection model," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(6), pages 491-511.
  4. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1998. "On the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Motive," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 449-53, May.
  5. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  6. John D. Hey & Andrea Morone & Ulrich Schmidt, 2007. "Noise and Bias in Eliciting Preferences," Kiel Working Papers 1386, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  7. Dhaval Dave & Henry Saffer, 2007. "Risk Tolerance and Alcohol Demand Among Adults and Older Adults," NBER Working Papers 13482, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  10. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  11. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Temporal stability of estimates of risk aversion," Applied Financial Economics Letters, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 31-35, January.
  12. Rosen, H.S.Harvey S. & Wu, Stephen, 2004. "Portfolio choice and health status," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 457-484, June.
  13. Isaac, R Mark & James, Duncan, 2000. " Just Who Are You Calling Risk Averse?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-87, March.
  14. Gabriel Picone & Frank Sloan & Donald Taylor, 2004. "Effects of Risk and Time Preference and Expected Longevity on Demand for Medical Tests," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 39-53, January.
  15. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2009. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 365-366, September.
  16. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  17. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2008. "Predicting health behaviors with an experimental measure of risk preference," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1260-1274, September.
  18. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Lost In State Space: Are Preferences Stable?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1091-1112, 08.
  19. Jayson L. Lusk & Keith H. Coble, 2005. "Risk Perceptions, Risk Preference, and Acceptance of Risky Food," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(2), pages 393-405.
  20. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-22, May.
  21. Sloan, Frank A & Norton, Edward C, 1997. "Adverse Selection, Bequests, Crowding Out, and Private Demand for Insurance: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 201-19, December.
  22. Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2011. "Experts in Experiments: How Selection Matters for Estimated Distributions of Risk Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 5575, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
  24. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  25. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Correlation of Welath Across Generations," NBER Working Papers 9314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor, 2006. "Education, Risk Preference and Wages," Working Papers 2006002, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2006.
  27. Norton, Edward C., 2000. "Long-term care," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 955-994 Elsevier.
  28. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  29. Kan, Kamhon, 2003. "Residential mobility and job changes under uncertainty," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 566-586, November.
  30. Lucie Schmidt, 2007. "Risk Preferences and the Timing of Marriage and Childbearing," Department of Economics Working Papers 2007-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  31. Kruse, Jamie Brown & Thompson, Mark A., 2003. "Valuing low probability risk: survey and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 495-505, April.
  32. Duncan James, 2007. "Stability of risk preference parameter estimates within the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 123-141, June.
  33. repec:feb:framed:0074 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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:kap:jrisku:v:39:y:2009:i:2:p:137-160. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

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.