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Risk aversion and physical prowess: Prediction, choice and bias

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  • Sheryl Ball
  • Catherine Eckel

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  • Maria Heracleous

Abstract

This paper reports on experiments where individuals are asked to make risky decisions for themselves as well as predicting the risky decisions of others. Prior research has generally shown that people expect women to be more risk averse than men and that they, in fact are - a result we also find. We ask whether this is a pure gender effect or whether there is more to this result. In particular, both evolutionary and economic theories suggest that physically stronger decision makers should make riskier decisions, suggesting physical prowess as an underlying cause of gender differences. These experiments explore whether risk aversion is associated with a number of measures of real and perceived physical prowess. We find that forecasters consistently predict the types of risky decision produced by both gender and physical prowess, but often at magnitudes that significantly exaggerate than actual differences. Sources of bias are also examined, showing that specific characteristics of the target and predictor lead to over-estimation or under-estimation of risk preferences.
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Suggested Citation

  • Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Maria Heracleous, 2010. "Risk aversion and physical prowess: Prediction, choice and bias," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 167-193, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:41:y:2010:i:3:p:167-193 DOI: 10.1007/s11166-010-9105-x
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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 3138-3160.
    2. repec:kap:jrisku:v:54:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11166-017-9253-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Justin Sydnor, 2011. "Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, February.
    4. Drichoutis, Andreas C. & Koundouri, Phoebe, 2012. "Estimating risk attitudes in conventional and artefactual lab experiments: The importance of the underlying assumptions," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-15.
    5. Kocher, Martin G. & Pahlke, Julius & Trautmann, Stefan T., 2015. "An experimental study of precautionary bidding," European Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 27-38.
    6. Andrea Robbett & Michael K. Graham & Peter Hans Matthews, 2016. "Revenue Implications of Strategic and External Auction Risk," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-18, January.
    7. Michele Limosani & Emanuele Millemaci, 2014. "Precautionary savings of agents with heterogeneous risk aversion," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(20), pages 2342-2361, July.
    8. Drupp, Moritz A. & Khadjavi, Menusch & Riekhof, Marie-Catherine & Voss, Rüdiger, 2017. "Professional identity and the gender gap in risk-taking: Evidence from a field experiment with scientists," Kiel Working Papers 2077, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    9. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman & Cathleen Johnson & Angela Oliveira & Christian Rojas & Rick Wilson, 2012. "School environment and risk preferences: Experimental evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 265-292, December.
    10. Franziska Ziegelmeyer & Michael Ziegelmeyer, 2016. "Parenting is risky business: parental risk attitudes in small stakes decisions on behalf of their children," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 599-623, September.
    11. Mary Riddel & Sonja Kolstoe, 2013. "Heterogeneity in life-duration preferences: Are risky recreationists really more risk loving?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 191-213, April.
    12. Roth, Benjamin & Trautmann, Stefan T. & Voskort, Andrea, 2016. "The role of personal interaction in the assessment of risk attitudes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 106-113.
    13. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Hans Matthews, Peter & Robbett, Andrea, 2017. "Compensating differentials in experimental labor markets," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 50-60.
    14. Philip Grossman & Catherine Eckel, 2015. "Loving the long shot: Risk taking with skewed lotteries," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 195-217, December.
    15. Paolo Crosetto & Antonio Filippin, 2016. "A theoretical and experimental appraisal of four risk elicitation methods," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 613-641, September.
    16. Sanjaya, Muhammad Ryan, 2013. "On the source of risk aversion in Indonesia using micro data 2007," Economics Discussion Papers 2013-33, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    17. repec:gam:jgames:v:7:y:2016:i:1:p:5:d:63022 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. repec:spr:scient:v:111:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2317-y is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Hamid Etemad, 2015. "The principal components of the international entrepreneurial orientation-performance relation and its linkages with the key concepts and key constructs in the present issue," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 361-369, December.
    20. Muhammad Ryan SANJAYA, 2013. "Shocks, Physical Characteristics, and Risk Taking Behaviour," Asian Journal of Empirical Research, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 3(9), pages 1081-1105, September.
    21. Sundar, B. & Virmani, Vineet, 2013. "Attitudes towards Risk of Forest Dependent Communities - Evidence from Andhra Pradesh," IIMA Working Papers WP2013-12-01, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk aversion; Physical risk; Experiment; Gender; Stereotyping; C91; D8; J16;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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