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Are individuals more risk and ambiguity averse in a group environment or alone? Results from an experimental study


  • Marielle Brunette

    () (LEF - Laboratoire d'Economie Forestière - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - AgroParisTech)

  • Laure Cabantous

    (University of Warwick [Coventry])

  • Stéphane Couture

    () (UBIA - Unité de Biométrie et Intelligence Artificielle - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)


Most decision-making research in economics focuses on individual decisions. Yet, we know, from psychological research in particular, that individual preferences can be sensitive to social pressures. In this paper, we study the impact of a group environment on individual preferences for risky (i.e., known probabilities) and ambiguous (i.e., unknown probabilities) prospects. In our experiment, each participant was invited to make a series of lottery-choice decisions in two different conditions. In the Alone condition, individuals made private choices, whereas in the Group condition, individuals belonged to a three-person group and group members' choices were aggregated according to either a majority or unanimity rule. This design allows us to study the impact of a group environment on individuals' attitude towards both risky and ambiguous prospects, while controlling for the decision rule used in the group. Our experimental results show that when individuals are in the Group condition, they tend to be less risk averse and more ambiguity averse than when they are not part of a group (Alone condition). Our experiment also suggests that the decision rule matters as it shows that these two trends tend to be stronger when the group implements a unanimity rule. Specifically, we found that individuals who belong to a group implementing a unanimity rule are significantly less risk averse than individuals who belong to a group that relies on the majority rule. We obtained a similar—but non-significant—result under ambiguity.

Suggested Citation

  • Marielle Brunette & Laure Cabantous & Stéphane Couture, 2015. "Are individuals more risk and ambiguity averse in a group environment or alone? Results from an experimental study," Post-Print hal-01189933, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01189933
    DOI: 10.1007/s11238-014-9432-5
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

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    Cited by:

    1. Morone, Andrea & Temerario, Tiziana, 2016. "Individual and Group Preferences Over Risk: An Experiment," EconStor Preprints 148357, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:294-305 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Simon Quemin, 2016. "Intertemporal abatement decisions under ambiguity aversion in a cap and trade," Working Papers 1604, Chaire Economie du climat.
    4. Morone, Andrea & Caferra, Rocco, 2019. "Individual and social preferences under risk: laboratory evidence on the group size effect," MPRA Paper 92856, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. M. Vittoria Levati & Stefan Napel & Ivan Soraperra, 2017. "Collective Choices Under Ambiguity," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 133-149, January.
    6. Andrea Morone & Francesco Nemore & Tiziana Temerario, 2017. "Individual and group preferences over risk: Does group size matter?," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2017/12, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    7. Takao Asano & Hiroko Okudaira & Masaru Sasaki, 2015. "An experimental test of a search model under ambiguity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 79(4), pages 627-637, December.
    8. Morone, Andrea & Temerario, Tiziana, 2016. "Group preferences over social risk: does (group) size matter?," MPRA Paper 74949, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Morone, Andrea & Nuzzo, Simone & Temerario, Tiziana, 2017. "Decision process, preferences over risk and consensus rule: a group experiment," MPRA Paper 79332, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Takao Asano & Hiroko Okudaira & Masaru Sasaki, 2015. "An Experimental Test of a Search Model under Ambiguity," KIER Working Papers 913, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Morone, Andrea & Temerario, Tiziana, 2016. "Preferences over social risk: does (group) size matter?," EconStor Preprints 147413, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    12. Enrica Carbone & Konstantinos Georgalos & Gerardo Infante, 2016. "Individual vs. Group Decision Making: an Experiment on Dynamic Choice under Risk and Ambiguity," Working Papers 138739716, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    13. Aurélien Baillon & Han Bleichrodt & Ning Liu & Peter P. Wakker, 2016. "Group decision rules and group rationality under risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 99-116, April.

    More about this item


    group; unanimity; majority; preferences; risk; ambiguity;


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