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Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk

  • Pedro Bordalo
  • Nicola Gennaioli
  • Andrei Shleifer

We present a theory of choice among lotteries in which the decision maker's attention is drawn to (precisely defined) salient payoffs. This leads the decision maker to a context-dependent representation of lotteries in which true probabilities are replaced by decision weights distorted in favor of salient payoffs. By specifying decision weights as a function of payoffs, our model provides a novel and unified account of many empirical phenomena, including frequent risk-seeking behavior, invariance failures such as the Allais paradox, and preference reversals. It also yields new predictions, including some that distinguish it from prospect theory, which we test. JEL Codes: D03, D81. Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 127 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 1243-1285

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:3:p:1243-1285
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  1. Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R., . "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," Working Papers 152, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience in Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect," NBER Working Papers 17761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Xavier Gabaix, 2014. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1661-1710.
  5. John Leland, 2010. "Generalized Similarity Judgments: An Alternative Explanation for Choice Anomalies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7644, David K. Levine.
  6. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  7. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1983. "A Rationale for Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 428-32, June.
  9. William Fellner, 1961. "Distortion of Subjective Probabilities as a Reaction to Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 670-689.
  10. Botond Koszegi & Adam Szeidl, 2013. "A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 53-104.
  11. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "What Comes to Mind," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1399-1433.
  12. Birnbaum, Michael H. & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2010. "Allais paradoxes can be reversed by presenting choices in canonical split form," Kiel Working Papers 1615, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  13. Yusufcan Masatlioglu & Daisuke Nakajima & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2012. "Revealed Attention," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2183-2205, August.
  14. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
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