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Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk

  • Shleifer, Andrei
  • Bordalo, Pedro
  • Gennaioli, Nicola

We present a theory of choice among lotteries in which the decision maker's attention is drawn to (precisely defined) salient payoffs. This leads the decision maker to a context-dependent representation of lotteries in which true probabilities are replaced by decision weights distorted in favor of salient payoffs. By specifying decision weights as a function of payoffs, our model provides a novel and unified account of many empirical phenomena, including frequent risk-seeking behavior, invariance failures such as the Allais paradox, and preference reversals. It also yields new predictions, including some that distinguish it from prospect theory, which we test.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/10636303/29210/salience_qje_jan18_final.pdf
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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/10636303/29210/salience_appendix_qje_jan18.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 10636303.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Publication status: Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:10636303
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Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/

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  1. Leland, Jonathan W, 1994. "Generalized Similarity Judgments: An Alternative Explanation for Choice Anomalies," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 151-72, October.
  2. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  3. Bordalo, Pedro & Gennaioli, Nicola & Shleifer, Andrei, 2012. "Salience and Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect," Scholarly Articles 10636304, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  5. Adam Szeidl & Botond Koszegi, 2011. "A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice," 2011 Meeting Papers 1441, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1983. "A Rationale for Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 428-32, June.
  7. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2009. "What Comes to Mind," NBER Working Papers 15084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Xavier Gabaix, 2014. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1661-1710.
  9. Grether, David M & Plott, Charles R, 1979. "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 623-38, September.
  10. Yusufcan Masatlioglu & Daisuke Nakajima & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2012. "Revealed Attention," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2183-2205, August.
  11. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and taxation: theory and evidence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. 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.
  13. Michael H. Birnbaum & Ulrich Schmidt, 2010. "Allais Paradoxes Can be Reversed by Presenting Choices in Canonical Split Form," Kiel Working Papers 1615, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
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