IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Experts in Experiments: How Selection Matters for Estimated Distributions of Risk Preferences

  • Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von


    (University of Bonn)

  • van Soest, Arthur


    (Tilburg University)

  • Wengström, Erik


    (University of Copenhagen)

An ever increasing number of experiments attempts to elicit risk preferences of a population of interest with the aim of calibrating parameters used in economic models. We are concerned with two types of selection effects, which may affect the external validity of standard experiments: Sampling from a narrowly defined population of students ("experimenter-induced selection") and self-selection of participants into the experiment. We find that both types of selection lead to a sample of experts: Participants perform significantly better than the general population, in the sense of fewer violations of revealed preference conditions. Self-selection within a broad population does not seem to matter for average preferences. In contrast, sampling from a student population leads to lower estimates of average risk aversion and loss aversion parameters. Furthermore, it dramatically reduces the amount of heterogeneity in all parameters.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5575.

in new window

Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5575
Contact details of provider: Postal:
IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Surveys," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 319, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Werner Güth & Carsten Schmidt & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Bargaining outside the lab - a newspaper experiment of a three-person ultimatum game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 449-469, 03.
  3. Syngjoo Choi & Shachar Kariv & Wieland M?ller & Dan Silverman, 2014. "Who Is (More) Rational?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1518-50, June.
  4. Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2008. "Selection and Mode Effects in Risk Preference Elicitation Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 3321, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Falk, Armin & Heckman, James J., 2009. "Lab Experiments Are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," IZA Discussion Papers 4540, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 511, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  8. Alessie, Rob & Hochguertel, Stefan & van Soest, Arthur, 2006. "Non-take-up of tax-favored savings plans: Evidence from Dutch employees," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 483-501, August.
  9. Hans-Martin von Gaudecker & Arthur van Soest & Erik Wengstrom, 2011. "Heterogeneity in Risky Choice Behavior in a Broad Population," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 664-94, April.
  10. Ulrich Schmidt & Tibor Neugebauer, 2007. "Testing expected utility in the presence of errors," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 470-485, 03.
  11. David M Kreps & Evan L Porteus, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000009, David K. Levine.
  12. Tomomi Tanaka & Colin F. Camerer & Quang Nguyen, 2010. "Risk and Time Preferences: Linking Experimental and Household Survey Data from Vietnam," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 557-71, March.
  13. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kroger, 2005. "On Representative Social Capital," Cahiers de recherche 0504, CIRPEE.
  14. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Loomes, G. & Moffatt, P.G. & Sugden, R., 1998. "A Microeconometric Test of Alternative Stochastic Theories of Risky Choice," University of East Anglia Discussion Papers in Economics 9806, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  16. David Lucking-Reiley, 1999. "Using field experiments to test equivalence between auction formats: Magic on the internet," Framed Field Experiments 00183, The Field Experiments Website.
  17. Hans Binswanger, 1980. "Attitudes toward risk: Experimental measurement in rural india," Artefactual Field Experiments 00009, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2007. "Naturally Occurring Markets and Exogenous Laboratory Experiments: A Case Study of the Winner's Curse," NBER Working Papers 13072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe & Schupp Jürgen & Wagner Gert, 2009. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  20. Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten I. & Elisabet Rutström, E., 2009. "Risk attitudes, randomization to treatment, and self-selection into experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 498-507, June.
  21. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2006. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(4), pages 383-405, December.
  22. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency and Heterogeneity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1921-1938, December.
  23. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Melonie B. Williams, 2001. "Estimating Individual Discount Rates in Denmark: A Field Experiment," NCEE Working Paper Series 200102, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Nov 2001.
  24. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Keith Coble & Jayson Lusk, 2010. "At the nexus of risk and time preferences: An experimental investigation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 67-79, August.
  26. Lisa Anderson & Jennifer Mellor, 2009. "Are risk preferences stable? Comparing an experimental measure with a validated survey-based measure," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 137-160, October.
  27. Bellemare, C. & Kroger, S. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2008. "Measuring inequity aversion in a heterogeneous population using experimental decisions and subjective probabilities," Other publications TiSEM f17bda32-98f9-4580-ab3f-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  28. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
  29. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
  30. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
  31. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  32. Sarah Jacobson & Ragan Petrie, 2009. "Learning from mistakes: What do inconsistent choices over risk tell us?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 143-158, April.
  33. Han Bleichrodt & Jose Luis Pinto & Peter P. Wakker, 2001. "Making Descriptive Use of Prospect Theory to Improve the Prescriptive Use of Expected Utility," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(11), pages 1498-1514, November.
  34. Hey, John D & Orme, Chris, 1994. "Investigating Generalizations of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1291-1326, November.
  35. repec:feb:framed:0074 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. Hey, John D., 1995. "Experimental investigations of errors in decision making under risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 633-640, April.
  37. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten Igel Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2009. "Preference Heterogeneity in Experiments: Comparing the Field and Laboratory," Post-Print hal-00736951, HAL.
  38. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  39. Charles Towe & Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Naturally occurring preferences and exogenous laboratory experiments: A case study of risk aversion," Framed Field Experiments 00155, The Field Experiments Website.
  40. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  41. Donkers, A.C.D. & Melenberg, B. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1999. "Estimating Risk Attitudes Using Lotteries; A Large Sample Approach," Discussion Paper 1999-12, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  42. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
  43. David Revelt and Kenneth Train., 2000. "Customer-Specific Taste Parameters and Mixed Logit: Households' Choice of Electricity Supplier," Economics Working Papers E00-274, University of California at Berkeley.
  44. Pavlo Blavatskyy, 2009. "Betting on own knowledge: Experimental test of overconfidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 39-49, February.
  45. Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
  46. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, 05.
  47. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  48. Nicolas de Roos & Yianis Sarafidis, 2010. "Decision making under risk in Deal or No Deal," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6), pages 987-1027.
  49. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
  50. Syngjoo Choi & Raymond Fisman & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2007. "Consistency, Heterogeneity, and Granularity of Individual Behavior under Uncertainty," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000793, UCLA Department of Economics.
  51. Graham Loomes, 2005. "Modelling the Stochastic Component of Behaviour in Experiments: Some Issues for the Interpretation of Data," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 8(4), pages 301-323, December.
  52. Steffen Huck & Wieland Müller, 2012. "Allais for all: Revisiting the paradox in a large representative sample," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 261-293, June.
  53. 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.
  54. Elisabet Rutstrom & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & Steffen Andersen, 2004. "Preference heterogeneity in experiments: Comparing the field and lab," Artefactual Field Experiments 00004, The Field Experiments Website.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5575. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.