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What Determines the Shape of the Probability Weighting Function?

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Abstract

When valuing risky prospects, people typically overweight small probabilities and underweight medium and large probabilities, but there is vast heterogeneity in individual behavior. We explore the relationship between person-specific probability weights, estimated from investment decisions in a laboratory experiment, and personal characteristics. We find considerable interaction effects with gender. While women’s probability weighting is strongly and significantly susceptible to mood states, men’s is not. Moreover, we show that cheerful and optimistic people weight probabilities of investment gains more favorably than do pessimistic people. People who calculate expected payoffs are less prone to probability distortions than those who do not use a lottery’s expected value as a decision criterion. None of the factors studied impact subjects’ valuations of monetary outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Helga Fehr-Duda & Marc Schürer & Renate Schubert, 2006. "What Determines the Shape of the Probability Weighting Function?," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 06/54, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:eth:wpswif:06-54
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Walther, Herbert, 2003. "Normal-randomness expected utility, time preference and emotional distortions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 253-266, October.
    2. 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.
    3. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    4. 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.
    5. Nathalie Etchart-Vincent, 2004. "Is Probability Weighting Sensitive to the Magnitude of Consequences? An Experimental Investigation on Losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 217-235, May.
    6. 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.
    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. George Wu & Richard Gonzalez, 1996. "Curvature of the Probability Weighting Function," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(12), pages 1676-1690, December.
    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. Kliger, Doron & Levy, Ori, 2003. "Mood-induced variation in risk preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 573-584, December.
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    1. The economic cost of the X Factor
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-11-23 20:33:46

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    Cited by:

    1. Galarza, Francisco, 2009. "Choices under Risk in Rural Peru," MPRA Paper 17708, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Lepori, Gabriele M., 2016. "Air pollution and stock returns: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 25-42.
    3. Alexander Harin, 2006. "Principle of Uncertain Future," Microeconomics harin_alexander.34115-061, Socionet.
    4. Harin, Alexander, 2007. "Principle of uncertain future and utility," MPRA Paper 1959, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    Probability Weighting Function; Prospect Theory; Risk Aversion; Gender Differences;

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