IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Measuring Risk Aversion with Lists: A New Bias


  • Antoni Bosch-Domènech
  • Joaquim Silvestre


Various experimental procedures aimed at measuring individual risk aversion involve a list of pairs of alternative prospects. We first study the widely used method by Holt and Laury (2002), for which we find that the removal of some items from the lists yields a systematic decrease in risk aversion. This bias is quite distinct from other confounds that have been previously observed in the use of the Holt and Laury method. It may be related to empirical phenomena and theoretical developments where better prospects increase risk aversion. Nevertheless, we have also found that the more recent elicitation method due to Abdellaoui et al. (2011), also based on lists, does not display any statistically significant bias when the corresponding items of the list are removed. Our results suggest that methods other than the popular Holt and Laury one may be preferable for the measurement of risk aversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2012. "Measuring Risk Aversion with Lists: A New Bias," Working Papers 634, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:634

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark McCord & Richard de Neufville, 1986. ""Lottery Equivalents": Reduction of the Certainty Effect Problem in Utility Assessment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(1), pages 56-60, January.
    2. Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2012. "Probability and Risk: Foundations and Economic Implications of Probability-Dependent Risk Preferences," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 567-593, July.
    3. Louis Lévy-Garboua & Hela Maafi & David Masclet & Antoine Terracol, 2012. "Risk aversion and framing effects," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(1), pages 128-144, March.
    4. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
    5. Machina, Mark J, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 277-323, March.
    6. Peter H. Farquhar, 1984. "State of the Art---Utility Assessment Methods," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(11), pages 1283-1300, November.
    7. Wakker,Peter P., 2010. "Prospect Theory," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521765015, March.
    8. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the Wealthy Risk More Money? An Experimental Comparison," Discussion Papers 03-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    9. 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.
    10. John C. Hershey & Howard C. Kunreuther & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1982. "Sources of Bias in Assessment Procedures for Utility Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(8), pages 936-954, August.
    11. Bosch-Domenech, Antoni & Silvestre, Joaquim, 1999. "Does risk aversion or attraction depend on income? An experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 265-273, December.
    12. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2010. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1375-1412, July.
    13. 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.
    14. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2009. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(3), pages 365-366, September.
    15. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Ahmed Driouchi & Olivier L’Haridon, 2011. "Risk aversion elicitation: reconciling tractability and bias minimization," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 71(1), pages 63-80, July.
    16. Bosch-Domènech, Antoni & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2010. "Averting risk in the face of large losses: Bernoulli vs. Tversky and Kahneman," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 180-182, May.
    17. Ian Bateman & Brett Day & Graham Loomes & Robert Sugden, 2007. "Can ranking techniques elicit robust values?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 49-66, February.
    18. Holt, Charles A, 1986. "Preference Reversals and the Independence Axiom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 508-515, June.
    19. John C. Hershey & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1985. "Probability Versus Certainty Equivalence Methods in Utility Measurement: Are they Equivalent?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(10), pages 1213-1231, October.
    20. Drichoutis, Andreas & Lusk, Jayson, 2012. "Risk preference elicitation without the confounding effect of probability weighting," MPRA Paper 37762, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
    22. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2006. "Reflections on gains and losses: A 2 × 2 × 7 experiment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 217-235, December.
    23. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
    24. Steffen Anderson & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & Rutstrom Elisabet, 2007. "Valuation using multiple price list formats," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(6), pages 675-682.
    25. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
    26. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    27. Isaac, R Mark & James, Duncan, 2000. "Just Who Are You Calling Risk Averse?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-187, March.
    28. Peter Wakker & Daniel Deneffe, 1996. "Eliciting von Neumann-Morgenstern Utilities When Probabilities Are Distorted or Unknown," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(8), pages 1131-1150, August.
    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. Bauermeister, Golo-Friedrich & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2016. "Risk Attitude And Inconsistencies - Does The Choice Of Display Format And Risk Elicitation Method Influence The Outcomes?," 56th Annual Conference, Bonn, Germany, September 28-30, 2016 244764, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    2. Andreas C. Drichoutis & Jayson L. Lusk, 2016. "What can multiple price lists really tell us about risk preferences?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 89-106, December.
    3. Habib, Sameh & Friedman, Daniel & Crockett, Sean & James, Duncan, 2015. "Eliciting risk preferences: Text vs. graphical multiple price lists," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship Market Design: Theory and Pragmatics SP II 2015-501, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    4. repec:spr:jesaex:v:3:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40881-016-0032-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bauermeister, Golo & Musshoff, Oliver, 2016. "Risk Aversion and Inconsistencies - Does the Choice of Risk Elicitation Method and Display Format Influence the Outcomes?," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235348, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Sujoy Mukerji & Robin Cubitt & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2014. "Discriminating between Models of Ambiguity Attitude: A Qualitative Test," Economics Series Working Papers 692, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    risk preferences; measurement of risk; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:bge:wpaper:634. 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: (Bruno Guallar). 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.