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Bias and brains: Risk aversion and cognitive ability across real and hypothetical settings

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  • Matthew Taylor

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Abstract

I collect data on subjects’ risk attitudes using real and hypothetical risky choices. I also measure their cognitive ability using the cognitive reflective test (CRT). On average, measured risk preferences are not significantly different across real and hypothetical settings. However, cognitive ability is inversely related to risk aversion when choices are hypothetical, but it is unrelated when the choices are real. This interaction between cognitive ability and hypothetical setting is consistent with the notion that some individuals, specifically higher-ability individuals, may treat hypothetical choices as “puzzles,” and provides one potential explanation for why some studies find that subjects indicate that they are more tolerant of risk when they make hypothetical choices than when they make real choices. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Taylor, 2013. "Bias and brains: Risk aversion and cognitive ability across real and hypothetical settings," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 299-320, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:46:y:2013:i:3:p:299-320
    DOI: 10.1007/s11166-013-9166-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Prokosheva, Sasha, 2016. "Comparing decisions under compound risk and ambiguity: The importance of cognitive skills," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 94-105.
    2. Sasha Prokosheva, 2014. "Comparing Decisions under Compound Risk and Ambiguity: The Importance of Cognitive Skills," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp525, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. repec:eee:transa:v:116:y:2018:i:c:p:361-388 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Soo Hong Chew & Junjian Yi & Junsen Zhang & Songfa Zhong, 2016. "Education and anomalies in decision making: Experimental evidence from Chinese adult twins," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 163-200, December.
    5. Alina Ferecatu & Ayse Önçüler, 2016. "Heterogeneous risk and time preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 1-28, August.
    6. Taylor, Matthew P., 2016. "Are high-ability individuals really more tolerant of risk? A test of the relationship between risk aversion and cognitive ability," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 136-147.
    7. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:352-367 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk aversion; Decision making; Hypothetical bias; Stated preference; Revealed preference; C91; D80; D83;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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