IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How politicians make decisions under risk: a political choice experiment



We report on an experimental study with real-world politicians. These political experts face political choice problems under risk and probability. Thus, we test the frequently observed violations of rational choice theory -the reference point effect, loss aversion, framing effects, and the common ratio effect- with experts from the field. Their choices violate expected utility theory. Nevertheless, they appear to be more rational and less risk averse (loving) in the domain of gains (losses) than student subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrique Fatás & Tibor Neugebauer & Pilar Tamborero, 2004. "How politicians make decisions under risk: a political choice experiment," Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces E2004/58, Centro de Estudios Andaluces.
  • Handle: RePEc:cea:doctra:e2004_58

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    2. Anderson, Matthew J. & Sunder, Shyam, 1995. "Professional Traders as Intuitive Bayesians," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 185-202, November.
    3. Dyer, Douglas & Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1989. "A Comparison of Naive and Experienced Bidders in Common Value Offer Auctions: A Laboratory Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 108-115, March.
    4. Roth, Alvin E. & Vesna Prasnikar & Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Shmuel Zamir, 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1068-1095, December.
    5. Bone, John & Hey, John & Suckling, John, 1999. "Are Groups More (or Less) Consistent Than Individuals?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 63-81, April.
    6. Chip Heath & Steven Huddart & Mark Lang, 1999. "Psychological Factors and Stock Option Exercise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 601-627.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    8. Jordi Brandts & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Arthur Schram, 2002. "How Universal is Behavior? A Four Country Comparison of Spite, Cooperation and Errors in Voluntary Contribution Mechanisms," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 532.02, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    9. 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.
    10. Potters, Jan & van Winden, Frans, 2000. "Professionals and students in a lobbying experiment: Professional rules of conduct and subject surrogacy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 499-522, December.
    11. Stuart Mestelman & David Feeny, 1988. "Does ideology matter?: Anecdotal experimental evidence on the voluntary provision of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 57(3), pages 281-286, June.
    12. repec:feb:framed:00135 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Dejong, Douglas V. & Forsythe, Robert & Uecker, Wilfred C., 1988. "A note on the use of businessmen as subjects in sealed offer markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 87-100, January.
    14. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
    15. Jordi Brandts & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Arthur Schram, 2004. "How Universal is Behavior? A Four Country Comparison of Spite and Cooperation in Voluntary Contribution Mechanisms," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(3_4), pages 381-424, June.
    16. Brandts, Jordi & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Cooperation and noise in public goods experiments: applying the contribution function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 399-427, February.
    17. Plott, Charles R, 1982. "Industrial Organization Theory and Experimental Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 1485-1527, December.
    18. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Subject-pool effect; experts; expected utility; prospect theory.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

    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:cea:doctra:e2004_58. 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: (Susana Mérida). 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.