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Do measures of risk attitude in the laboratory predict behavior under risk in and outside of the laboratory?

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  • Gary Charness

    () (Department of Economics, University of California at Santa Barbara)

  • Thomas Garcia

    () (Univ Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon 2, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France; QuBE - School of Economics and Finance, QUT, Brisbane, Australia)

  • Theo Offerman

    () (CREED and Tinbergen Institute, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France; IZA, Bonn, Germany)

Abstract

We consider the external validity of laboratory measures of risk attitude. Based on a large-scale experiment using a representative panel of the Dutch population, we test if these measures can explain two different types of behavior: (i) behavior in laboratory risky financial decisions, and (ii) behavior in naturally-occurring field behavior under risk (financial, health and employment decisions). We find that measures of risk attitude are related to behavior in laboratory financial decisions and the most complex measures are outperformed by simpler measures. However, measures of risk attitude are not related to risk-taking in the field, calling into question the methods currently used for the purpose of measuring actual risk preferences. We conclude that while the external validity of measures of risk attitude holds in closely related frameworks, this validity is compromised in more remote settings.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Charness & Thomas Garcia & Theo Offerman & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Do measures of risk attitude in the laboratory predict behavior under risk in and outside of the laboratory?," Working Papers 1921, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
  • Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:1921
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    Cited by:

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    2. Hackethal, Andreas & Kirchler, Michael & Laudenbach, Christine & Razen, Michael & Weber, Annika, 2020. "On the (ir)relevance of monetary incentives in risk preference elicitation experiments," SAFE Working Paper Series 286, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    3. Ruben C. Arslan & Martin Brümmer & Thomas Dohmen & Johanna Drewelies & Ralph Hertwig & Gert G. Wagner, 2020. "How People Know Their Risk Preference," CESifo Working Paper Series 8586, CESifo.
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    7. Schneider, Sebastian O. & Sutter, Matthias, 2020. "Higher Order Risk Preferences: Experimental Measures, Determinants and Related Field Behavior," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224643, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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    10. Andrea Hackethal & Michael Kirchler & Christine Laudenbach & Michael Razen & Annika Weber, 2020. "On the (ir)relevance of monetary incentives in risk preference elicitation experiments," Working Papers 2020-29, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

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    Keywords

    Risk preferences; elicitation methods; lab-in-the-field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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