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Is there a "pessimistic" bias in individual beliefs ? Evidence from a simple survey


  • Clotilde Napp

    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE Paris - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Elyès Jouini

    (CEREMADE - CEntre de REcherches en MAthématiques de la DEcision - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Selima Benmansour

    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


It is an important issue for economic and finance applications to determine whether individuals exhibit a behavioral bias toward pessimism in their beliefs, in a lottery or more generally in an investment opportunities framework. In this paper, we analyze the answers of a sample of 1,540 individuals to the following question: Imagine that a coin will be flipped 10 times. Each time, if heads, you win 10 Euros. How many times do you think that you will win? The average answer is surprisingly about 3.9 which is below the average 5, and we interpret this as a pessimistic bias. We find that women are more "pessimistic" than men, as are old people relative to young. We also analyze how our notion of pessimism is related to more general notions of pessimism previously introduced in psychology.

Suggested Citation

  • Clotilde Napp & Elyès Jouini & Selima Benmansour, 2006. "Is there a "pessimistic" bias in individual beliefs ? Evidence from a simple survey," Post-Print halshs-00151569, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00151569
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    Cited by:

    1. Luc Arrondel & Jérôme Coffinet, 2021. "Preparing for the tax reform: the risky French households' portfolio in 2018," PSE Working Papers halshs-03322577, HAL.
    2. Blayac, Thierry & Stéphan, Maïté, 2021. "Are retrospective rail punctuality indicators useful? Evidence from users perceptions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 193-213.
    3. Luc Arrondel & André Masson, 2017. "Why does household demand for shares decline during the crisis? The French case," Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE), issue 494-495-4, pages 155-177.
    4. Hillenbrand, Adrian & Winter, Fabian, 2018. "Volunteering under population uncertainty," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 65-81.
    5. Bellofatto, Anthony & Broihanne, Marie-Hélène & D'Hondt, Catherine, 2019. "Appetite for information and trading behavior," LIDAM Discussion Papers LFIN 2019002, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain Finance (LFIN).
    6. Luc Arrondel, 2018. "Financial Literacy and Asset Behaviour: Poor Education and Zero for Conduct?," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 60(1), pages 144-160, March.
    7. Sarah Brown & Mark N. Harris & Christopher Spencer & Karl Taylor, 2024. "Financial Expectations and Household Consumption: Does Middle‐Inflation Matter?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 56(4), pages 741-768, June.
    8. Luc Arrondel, 2020. "Financial literacy and French behaviour on the stock market," Working Papers halshs-02505320, HAL.
    9. Jouini, Elyès & Napp, Clotilde, 2015. "Gurus and belief manipulation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 11-18.
    10. Chatterjee, Swarn & Finke, Michael & Harness, Nathaniel, 2008. "Self-esteem and Individual Wealth," MPRA Paper 20120, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 16 Aug 2008.
    11. M Kannadhasan & S Aramvalarthan & S K Mitra & Vinay Goyal, 2016. "Relationship between Biopsychosocial Factors and Financial Risk Tolerance: An Empirical Study," Vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers, , vol. 41(2), pages 117-131, June.
    12. Selima Ben Mansour & Elyès Jouini & Jean-Michel Marin & Clotilde Napp & Christian Robert, 2008. "Are risk-averse agents more optimistic? A Bayesian estimation approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 843-860.
    13. Luc Arrondel & Jérôme Coffinet, 2018. "Demand For Stocks in the Crisis: France 2004-2014," Working Papers halshs-01785324, HAL.
    14. repec:dau:papers:123456789/2324 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Robert M. Gillenkirch & Achim Hendriks & Susanne A. Welker, 2014. "Effects of Executive Compensation Complexity on Investor Behaviour in an Experimental Stock Market," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 625-645, December.

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    pessimism; judged probability; lottery;
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