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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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  • Charness, Gary

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Garcia, Thomas

    () (GATE, University of Lyon)

  • Offerman, Theo

    () (University of Amsterdam)

  • Villeval, Marie Claire

    () (CNRS, GATE)

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

  • Charness, Gary & Garcia, Thomas & Offerman, Theo & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2019. "Do Measures of Risk Attitude in the Laboratory Predict Behavior under Risk in and outside of the Laboratory?," IZA Discussion Papers 12395, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12395
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabien Perez & Guillaume Hollard & Radu Vranceanu & Delphine Dubart, 2019. "How Serious is the Measurement-Error Problem in a Popular Risk-Aversion Task?," Working Papers hal-02291224, HAL.
    2. Felix Holzmeister & Matthias Stefan, 2019. "The risk elicitation puzzle revisited: Across-methods (in)consistency?," Working Papers 2019-19, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    3. Holzmeister, Felix & Stefan, Matthias, 2019. "The Risk Elicitation Puzzle Revisited: Across-Methods (In)consistency?," OSF Preprints pj9u2, Center for Open Science.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    elicitation methods; lab-in-the-field experiment; risk preferences;

    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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