IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Time-inconsistent risk preferences in a laboratory experiment


  • K. Ko
  • Zhijian Huang



We conduct an experiment to explore the time-consistency of risk preferences in a multi-period betting game. Specifically, subjects planned their contingent betting decisions in advance then played the game dynamically later to determine whether their respective decisions matched. We find that subjects took more risk than planned in their initial bet and after losses. In addition, this increased risk was associated with an increase in breakeven mental accounting. Our findings indicate that immediacy of outcomes can lead to impulsive risk-taking behavior and highlight the importance of precommitment to long-term financial planning. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • K. Ko & Zhijian Huang, 2012. "Time-inconsistent risk preferences in a laboratory experiment," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 471-484, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:rqfnac:v:39:y:2012:i:4:p:471-484
    DOI: 10.1007/s11156-011-0264-x

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1209-1248.
    2. Levy, Haim, 1994. "Absolute and Relative Risk Aversion: An Experimental Study," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 289-307, May.
    3. Manel Baucells & Franz H. Heukamp, 2012. "Probability and Time Trade-Off," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(4), pages 831-842, April.
    4. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
    5. Charles Noussair & Ping Wu, 2006. "Risk tolerance in the present and the future: an experimental study," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(6), pages 401-412.
    6. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    7. Milevsky, Moshe Arye, 1999. "Time Diversification, Safety-First and Risk," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 271-281, May.
    8. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:wsi:ijtafx:v:20:y:2017:i:03:n:s0219024917500170 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dorsaf Ben Aissia, 2016. "Developments in non-expected utility theories: an empirical study of risk aversion," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 40(2), pages 299-318, April.

    More about this item


    Experimental economics; Time inconsistency; Risk preference; Mental accounting; Behavioral finance; C91; D81; G14;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:rqfnac:v:39:y:2012:i:4:p:471-484. 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 (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.