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Psychophysical interpretation for utility measures


  • He, Yuqing


The paper explores utility measures by combining experiments with mathematical derivations in the psychophysics paradigm. The analysis on the ultimatum game experiment reveals evidences for the utility threshold and thus supports Bernoulli's utility logarithmic law. Both experimental results and theoretical derivations show that the logarithmic law is suitable for the description of commodity choice and the power law for risk choice. The further mathematical demonstration indicates the logarithmic law for utility scaling to be a KleinRubin utility function, a utility function well defined in microeconomics. Based on this, the experimental utility measure is connected with the econometric model Linear Expenditure System, and presents an experimental procedure for testing the utility maximization hypothesis, which will resolve a long unsettled perplexity in a fundamental stone of economics since Gossen proposed it in 1854.

Suggested Citation

  • He, Yuqing, 2012. "Psychophysical interpretation for utility measures," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:201229

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Mehl, Arnaud & Chitu, Livia & Richardson, Gary, 2015. "Mutual Assistance between Federal Reserve Banks: 1913–1960 as Prolegomena to the TARGET2 Debate," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(03), pages 621-659, September.

    More about this item


    psychophysics; ultimatum game; utility function; logarithmic law; power law;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles


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