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Further Reflections on Prospect Theory

  • Susan K. Laury
  • Charles A. Holt

This paper reports a new experimental test of prospect theoryâ??s reflection effect. We conduct a sequence of experiments that allow us to directly compare choices under reflected gains and losses where real and hypothetical payoffs range from several dollars to over $100. Lotteries with positive payoffs are transformed into lotteries over losses by reflecting all payoffs around zero. When we use hypothetical payments, more than half of the subjects who are risk averse for gains turn out to be risk seeking for losses. This "reflection effect" is diminished considerably with cash payoffs, where the modal choice pattern is to exhibit risk aversion for both gains and losses. However, we do observe a significant difference in risk attitudes between losses (where most subjects are approximately risk neutral) and gains (where most subjects are risk averse). Reflection rates are further reduced when payoffs are scaled up by a factor of 15 (for both real and hypothetical payoffs).

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Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2006-23.

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Length: 30
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2006-23
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  1. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
  2. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  3. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  4. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & Jiranyakul, Komain, 1990. " Testing between Alternative Models of Choice under Uncertainty: Some Initial Results," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 25-50, March.
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