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Ambiguity and Gender Differences in Financial Decision Making: An Experimental Examination of Competence and Confidence Effects

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    This paper reports the results of an experiment that brings together psychological measures of competence and overconfidence with laboratory economic measures of individual valuations of uncertainty. We examine the valuations of risky and ambiguous lotteries in a financial decision context. The experiment can be viewed in two parts. The first part replicates an experimental design reported by Heath and Tversky (1991) but within a financial market context. This part produces two measures: 1) competence, the perception of feeling knowledgeable or competent in an area and 2) overconfidence, the well documented result that many individuals overestimate their ability. These measures, together with an indicator of objective knowledge, were used to explain elicited certainty equivalents in the second part of the experiment. Certainty equivalents were elicited for lotteries that were contingent on the price movements of real stock and bond funds, the price changes of simulated virtual funds, and pure risk lotteries. These represent three different levels of uncertainty: two-sided ambiguity, one-sided ambiguity and pure risk. Our results show a significant relationship between individual overconfidence and competence measures and elicited values of lotteries in a financial decision context. Further, the interaction of overconfidence, competence and knowledge measures with gender produce nearly opposite effects.

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    File URL: http://www.cer.ethz.ch/research/wp_02_23_paper.pdf
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    Paper provided by CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich in its series CER-ETH Economics working paper series with number 02/23.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: May 2002
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:eth:wpswif:02-23
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    1. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
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    3. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
    4. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, And Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292, February.
    5. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
    6. Kent Daniel & David Hirshleifer & Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, 1998. "Investor Psychology and Security Market Under- and Overreactions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(6), pages 1839-1885, December.
    7. Kruse, Jamie Brown & Thompson, Mark A., 2003. "Valuing low probability risk: survey and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 495-505, April.
    8. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    9. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
    10. Gervais, Simon & Odean, Terrance, 2001. "Learning to be Overconfident," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 1-27.
    11. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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    14. Taylor, Kimberly A., 1995. "Testing Credit and Blame Attributions as Explanation for Choices under Ambiguity," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 128-137, November.
    15. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. 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.
    17. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
    18. Laschke, Andreas & Weber, Martin, 1999. "Der "Overconfidence Bias" und seine Konsequenzen in Finanzmärkten," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-63, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    19. Diecidue, Enrico & Wakker, Peter P, 2001. " On the Intuition of Rank-Dependent Utility," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 281-98, November.
    20. Sunden, Annika E & Surette, Brian J, 1998. "Gender Differences in the Allocation of Assets in Retirement Savings Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 207-11, May.
    21. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. " Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
    22. Powell, Melanie & Ansic, David, 1997. "Gender differences in risk behaviour in financial decision-making: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 605-628, November.
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