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Weber's Law and the Biological Evolution of Risk Preferences: The Selective Dominance of the Logarithmic Utility Function

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  • Hans-Werner Sinn

Abstract

The paper offers a proof that expected utility maximisation with logarithmic utility is a dominant preference in the biological selection process in the sense that a population following any other preference for decision-making under risk will, with a probability that approaches certainty, disappear relative to the population following this preference as time goes to infinity. The result is contrasted with Weber's and Fechner's Psychophysical Law which implies logarithmic sensation functions for objective physical stimuli.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans-Werner Sinn, 2002. "Weber's Law and the Biological Evolution of Risk Preferences: The Selective Dominance of the Logarithmic Utility Function," CESifo Working Paper Series 770, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_770
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo_wp770.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1980. "Ökonomische Entscheidungen bei Ungewißheit," Monograph, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, edition 1, number urn:isbn:9783169427024.
    2. Karni, Edi & Schmeidler, David, 1986. "Self-preservation as a foundation of rational behavior under risk," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 71-81, March.
    3. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "A Biological Basis for Expected and Non-expected Utility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 397-424, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Günther Rehme, 2011. "Endogenous Policy And Cross‐Country Growth Empirics," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 58(2), pages 262-296, May.

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    Keywords

    evolution; selection; risk preferences;

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