IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/kap/theord/v71y2011i4p615-641.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The ratio bias phenomenon: fact or artifact?

Author

Listed:
  • Mathieu Lefebvre

    ()

  • Ferdinand Vieider

    ()

  • Marie Villeval

    ()

Abstract

The ratio bias – according to which individuals prefer to bet on probabilities expressed as a ratio of large numbers to normatively equivalent or superior probabilities expressed as a ratio of small numbers – has recently gained momentum, with researchers especially in health economics emphasizing the policy importance of the phenomenon. Although the bias has been replicated several times, some doubts remain about its economic significance. Our two experiments show that the bias disappears once order effects are excluded, and once salient and dominant incentives are provided. This holds true for both choice and valuation tasks. Also, adding context to the decision problem does not change this outcome. No ratio bias could be found in between-subject tests either, which leads us to the conclusion that the policy relevance of the phenomenon is doubtful at best.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Mathieu Lefebvre & Ferdinand Vieider & Marie Villeval, 2011. "The ratio bias phenomenon: fact or artifact?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 71(4), pages 615-641, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:71:y:2011:i:4:p:615-641
    DOI: 10.1007/s11238-010-9212-9
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11238-010-9212-9
    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 below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jinkwon Lee, 2008. "The effect of the background risk in a simple chance improving decision model," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 19-41, February.
    2. Adam Booij & Bernard Praag & Gijs Kuilen, 2010. "A parametric analysis of prospect theory’s functionals for the general population," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 115-148, February.
    3. 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.
    4. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-955, December.
    5. Myagkov, Mikhail & Plott, Charles R, 1997. "Exchange Economies and Loss Exposure: Experiments Exploring Prospect Theory and Competitive Equilibria in Market Environments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 801-828, December.
    6. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Aurelien Baillon & Laetitia Placido & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 695-723, April.
    7. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Olivier L’Haridon, 2008. "A tractable method to measure utility and loss aversion under prospect theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 245-266, June.
    8. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    9. Sawyer, Alan G, 1975. " Demand Artifacts in Laboratory Experiments in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(4), pages 20-30, March.
    10. Eckel, Catherine, 1999. "Commentary on "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 47-48, December.
    11. Han Bleichrodt & Jose Luis Pinto, 2000. "A Parameter-Free Elicitation of the Probability Weighting Function in Medical Decision Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1485-1496, November.
    12. Gerlinde Fellner & Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Causes, Consequences, and Cures of Myopic Loss Aversion - An Experimental Investigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 900-916, April.
    13. Ulrich Schmidt & Horst Zank, 2005. "What is Loss Aversion?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 157-167, January.
    14. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Melonie B. Williams, 2002. "Estimating Individual Discount Rates in Denmark: A Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1606-1617, December.
    15. 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.
    16. John Hey & Jinkwon Lee, 2005. "Do Subjects Separate (or Are They Sophisticated)?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 8(3), pages 233-265, September.
    17. Helga Fehr-Duda & Adrian Bruhin & Thomas Epper & Renate Schubert, 2010. "Rationality on the rise: Why relative risk aversion increases with stake size," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 147-180, April.
    18. Tversky, Amos & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Anomalies: Preference Reversals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 201-211, Spring.
    19. Carissa Bonner & Ben R. Newell, 2008. "How to make a risk seem riskier: The ratio bias versus construal level theory," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3, pages 411-416, June.
    20. Huck, Steffen & Weizsacker, Georg, 1999. "Risk, complexity, and deviations from expected-value maximization: Results of a lottery choice experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 699-715, December.
    21. Horst Zank, 2010. "On probabilities and loss aversion," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(3), pages 243-261, March.
    22. Robin P. Cubitt & Alistair Munro & Chris Starmer, 2004. "Testing explanations of preference reversal," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 709-726, July.
    23. Martin G. Kocher & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2013. "Selection Into Auctions For Risky And Ambiguous Prospects," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 882-895, January.
    24. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    25. Stefan Trautmann & Ferdinand Vieider & Peter Wakker, 2008. "Causes of ambiguity aversion: Known versus unknown preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 225-243, June.
    26. Budescu, David V, 1999. "Commentary on "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 43-45, December.
    27. Wilcox, Nathaniel T, 1993. "Lottery Choice: Incentives, Complexity and Decision Time," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(421), pages 1397-1417, November.
    28. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    29. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1989. "Risk, Ambiguity, and Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-35, April.
    30. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
    31. Jose-Luis Pinto-Prades & Jorge-Eduardo Martinez-Perez & Jose-Maria Abellan-Perpinan, 2006. "The influence of the ratio bias phenomenon on the elicitation of health states utilities," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 118-133, November.
    32. Bohm, Peter, 1994. "Time Preference and Preference Reversal among Experienced Subjects: The Effects of Real Payments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1370-1378, November.
    33. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & Jiranyakul, Komain, 1990. "Testing between Alternative Models of Choice under Uncertainty: Some Initial Results," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 25-50, March.
    34. Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Chen Li & Zhihua Li & Peter Wakker, 2014. "If nudge cannot be applied: a litmus test of the readers’ stance on paternalism," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 76(3), pages 297-315, March.
    2. Johannes G. Jaspersen, 2016. "Hypothetical Surveys And Experimental Studies Of Insurance Demand: A Review," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 83(1), pages 217-255, January.
    3. Lefebvre, Mathieu & Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2010. "Incentive effects on risk attitude in small probability prospects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 115-120, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ratio bias; Financial incentives; Error rates; Experiment; D-03; D-81; I-19;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:theord:v:71:y:2011:i:4:p:615-641. 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: http://www.springer.com .

    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.