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Aging, Probability Weighting, and Reference Point Adoption: An Experimental Study

  • Ayako Suzuki
  • Koichi Kume

We examine generational differences in risk-taking behavior by means of a laboratory experiment with monetary incentives. We estimate the parameterized models in the framework of cumulative prospect theory and examine the risk aversion, probability weightings and reference point adoption of elderly and young groups. The results of our experiment indicate that the elderly group is less sensitive to changes in probability and tends to underestimate large probabilities and overestimate small probabilities more strongly than does the young group. Furthermore, we find that the elderly update their reference point after gains and tend to derive their utility from gains and losses not from levels of wealth. In sum, we find that the elderly group's behavior departs more from the traditional expected utility theory than does the young group's behavior.

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Paper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0720.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0720
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  1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  2. Karni, Edi & Safra, Zvi, 1987. ""Preference Reversal' and the Observability of Preferences by Experimental Methods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 675-85, May.
  3. Camerer, Colin F, 1989. " An Experimental Test of Several Generalized Utility Theories," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 61-104, April.
  4. Kliger, Doron & Kudryavtsev, Andrey, 2008. "Reference point formation by market investors," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1782-1794, September.
  5. Arkes, Hal & Hirshleifer, David & Jiang, Danling & Lim, Sonya, 2006. "Reference Point Adaptation: Tests in the Domain of Security Trading," MPRA Paper 4259, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
  7. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  8. Kovalchik, Stephanie & Camerer, Colin F. & Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R. & Allman, John M., 2005. "Aging and decision making: a comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 79-94, September.
  9. Pamela K. Lattimore & Joanna R. Baker & A. Dryden Witte, 1992. "The Influence Of Probability on Risky Choice: A parametric Examination," NBER Technical Working Papers 0081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanie, 2000. "Estimating Preferences under Risk: The Case of Racetrack Bettors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 503-530, June.
  12. Lattimore, Pamela K. & Baker, Joanna R. & Witte, Ann D., 1992. "The influence of probability on risky choice: A parametric examination," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 377-400, May.
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