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Fear of the Unknown: Familiarity and Economic Decisions

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  • H. Henry Cao
  • Bing Han
  • David Hirshleifer
  • Harold H. Zhang

Abstract

Evidence indicates that people fear change and the unknown. We model this behavior as familiarity bias in which individuals focus on adverse scenarios in evaluating defections from the status quo. The model explains portfolio underdiversification, home and local biases. More importantly, equilibrium stock prices reflect an unfamiliarity premium. In an international setting, our model predicts that while the standard CAPM fails to hold with respect to the world market portfolio, a modified CAPM holds wherein the market portfolio is replaced with a portfolio of the stock holdings of investors not subject to familiarity bias. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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  • H. Henry Cao & Bing Han & David Hirshleifer & Harold H. Zhang, 2011. "Fear of the Unknown: Familiarity and Economic Decisions," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(1), pages 173-206.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:15:y:2011:i:1:p:173-206
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    Cited by:

    1. Hui Chen & Nengjiu Ju & Jianjun Miao, 2014. "Dynamic Asset Allocation with Ambiguous Return Predictability," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 799-823, October.
    2. Dimmock, Stephen G. & Kouwenberg, Roy & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Peijnenburg, Kim, 2016. "Ambiguity aversion and household portfolio choice puzzles: Empirical evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 559-577.
    3. Goodell, John W. & Vähämaa, Sami, 2013. "US presidential elections and implied volatility: The role of political uncertainty," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1108-1117.
    4. Ding, Rong & Hou, Wenxuan, 2015. "Retail investor attention and stock liquidity," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 12-26.
    5. Füllbrunn, Sascha & Rau, Holger A. & Weitzel, Utz, 2014. "Does ambiguity aversion survive in experimental asset markets?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PB), pages 810-826.
    6. Füllbrunn, Sascha & Rau, Holger & Weitzel, Utz, 2013. "Do ambiguity effects survive in experimental asset markets?," MPRA Paper 44700, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Roee Teper, 2010. "Probabilistic Dominance and Status Quo Bias," Working Paper 5864, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    8. Riella, Gil & Teper, Roee, 2014. "Probabilistic dominance and status quo bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 288-304.
    9. Hirshleifer, David & Teoh, Siew Hong, 2008. "Thought and Behavior Contagion in Capital Markets," MPRA Paper 9164, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. David Hirshleifer & Chong Huang & Siew Hong Teoh, 2017. "Model Uncertainty, Ambiguity Aversion, and Market Participation," NBER Working Papers 24143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Martin Schneider, 2010. "The Research Agenda: Martin Schneider on Multiple Priors Preferences and Financial Markets," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), April.
    12. David Hirshleife, 2015. "Behavioral Finance," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 133-159, December.
    13. Baltzer, Markus & Stolper, Oscar & Walter, Andreas, 2011. "Home-field advantage or a matter of ambiguity aversion? Local bias among German individual investors," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2011,23, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    14. Siegel, Jordan I. & Licht, Amir N. & Schwartz, Shalom H., 2011. "Egalitarianism and international investment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 621-642.
    15. Salaber, Julie, 2013. "Religion and returns in Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 149-160.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • F30 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - General
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets

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