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A Bayesian Approach to Uncertainty Aversion

  • Vincent Feltkamp

    (Statistics Netherlands)

  • Yoram Halevy

    (University of British Columbia)

The Ellsberg paradox demonstrates that people's belief over uncertain events might not be representable by subjective probability. We argue that Uncertainty Aversion may be viewed as a case of "Rule Rationality''. This paradigm claims that people's decision making has evolved to simple rules that perform well in most regular environments. Such an environment consists of replicas of some basic singular circumstance. When the rule is applied to a singular environment, the behavior may seem paradoxical. We claim that the regular environment in which decisions under uncertainty take place, is described by one decision that spans multiple ambiguous risks, which are positively correlated. We show that when a risk averse individual has a Bayesian prior and uses a rule, which is optimal for the regular ambiguous environment, to evaluate a singular vague circumstance - his behavior will exhibit uncertainty aversion. Thus, the behavior predicted by Ellsberg may be explained within the Bayesian expected utility paradigm.

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 1125.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1125
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  1. Uzi Segal, 1985. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," UCLA Economics Working Papers 362, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  3. Aumann, Robert J., 1997. "Rationality and Bounded Rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 2-14, October.
  4. Sarin, Rakesh & Wakker, Peter, 1997. "A Single-Stage Approach to Anscombe and Aumann's Expected Utility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 399-409, July.
  5. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  6. Larry Epstein, 1997. "Uncertainty Aversion," Working Papers epstein-97-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  8. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  9. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  10. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
  11. Sarin, Rakesh K & Wakker, Peter, 1992. "A Simple Axiomatization of Nonadditive Expected Utility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1255-72, November.
  12. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  13. Machina,Mark & Schmeidler,David, 1991. "A more robust definition of subjective probability," Discussion Paper Serie A 365, University of Bonn, Germany.
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