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The Ratio Bias Phenomenon : Fact or Artifact ?

  • Mathieu Lefebvre

    ()

    (University of Liège, CREPP; Boulevard du Rectorat, 7 Bâtiment 31, boîte 39, 4000 Liège, Belgium)

  • Ferdinand Vieider

    ()

    (University Lyon 2, Lyon, F-69007, France; CNRS, GATE, 93, Chemin de Mouilles Ecully, F- 69130, France, and DIW, Berlin, Germany)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    ()

    (University Lyon 2, Lyon, F-69007, France; CNRS, GATE, 93, Chemin de Mouilles Ecully, F- 69130, France, IZA, Bonn, Germany, and CCP, Aarhus, Denmark)

The ratio bias -according to which individuals prefer to bet on probabilities expressed as a ratio of large numbers to normatively equivalent or superior probabilities expressed as a ratio of small numbers- has recently gained momentum, with researchers especially in health economics emphasizing the policy importance of the phenomenon. Although the bias has been replicated several times, some doubts remain about its economic significance. Our two experiments show that the bias disappears once order effects are excluded, and once salient and dominant incentives are provided. This holds true for both choice and valuation tasks. Also, adding context to the decision problem does not change this outcome. No ratio bias could be found in between-subject tests either, which leads us to the conclusion that the policy relevance of the phenomenon is doubtful at best.

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Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 0925.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:0925
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