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

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  • Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von

    () (University of Bonn)

  • van Soest, Arthur

    () (Tilburg University)

  • Wengström, Erik

    () (University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2011. "Experts in Experiments: How Selection Matters for Estimated Distributions of Risk Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 5575, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5575
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    Cited by:

    1. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2016. "Deciding for Others Reduces Loss Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(1), pages 29-36, January.
    2. Tamás Csermely & Alexander Rabas, 2016. "How to reveal people’s preferences: Comparing time consistency and predictive power of multiple price list risk elicitation methods," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 53(2), pages 107-136, December.
    3. Csermely, Tamás & Rabas, Alexander, 2014. "How to reveal people's preferences: Comparing time consistency and predictive power of multiple price list risk elicitation methods," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 4319, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    4. Chew, Soo Hong & Ebstein, Richard P. & Zhong, Songfa, 2013. "Sex-hormone genes and gender difference in ultimatum game: Experimental evidence from China and Israel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 28-42.
    5. Andersson, Ola & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Wengström, Erik & Holm, Håkan J., 2013. "Risk Aversion Relates to Cognitive Ability: Fact or Fiction?," Working Papers 2013:9, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 21 Oct 2013.
    6. Hans-Martin Gaudecker & Arthur Soest & Erik Wengström, 2012. "Experts in experiments," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 159-190, October.
    7. Adam Booij & Bernard Praag & Gijs Kuilen, 2010. "A parametric analysis of prospect theory’s functionals for the general population," Theory and Decision, Springer, pages 115-148.
    8. 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.
    9. Frijters, Paul & Kong, Tao Sherry & Liu, Elaine M., 2015. "Who is coming to the artefactual field experiment? Participation bias among Chinese rural migrants," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 62-74.
    10. Füllbrunn, Sascha & Luhan, Wolfgang J., 2015. "Am I my Peer's Keeper? Social Responsibility in Financial Decision Making," Ruhr Economic Papers 551, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Jon Anderson & Stephen Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Götte & Karsten Maurer & Daniele Nosenzo & Ruth Potter & Kim Rocha & Aldo Rustichini, 2013. "Self-selection and variations in the laboratory measurement of other-regarding preferences across subject pools: evidence from one college student and two adult samples," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, pages 170-189.
    12. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2015. "Self-selection into laboratory experiments: pro-social motives versus monetary incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 195-214, June.
    13. Booij, Adam S. & van de Kuilen, Gijs, 2009. "A parameter-free analysis of the utility of money for the general population under prospect theory," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 651-666, August.
    14. Booth, Alison & Cardona-Sosa, Lina & Nolen, Patrick, 2014. "Gender differences in risk aversion: Do single-sex environments affect their development?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 126-154.
    15. 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.
    16. 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 664-694, April.
    17. repec:zbw:rwirep:0551 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Andersson, Ola & Holm, Håkan J. & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Wengström, Erik, 2013. "Risking Other People’s Money: Experimental Evidence on Bonus Schemes, Competition, and Altruism," Working Paper Series 989, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    19. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2013. "Self-selection into Economics Experiments is Driven by Monetary Rewards," Discussion Papers 2013-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    20. Stefan Zeisberger & Dennis Vrecko & Thomas Langer, 2012. "Measuring the time stability of Prospect Theory preferences," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 72(3), pages 359-386, March.
    21. Golsteyn, B.H.H. & Grönqvist, H. & Lindahl, L., 2013. "Time preferences and lifetime outcomes," ROA Research Memorandum 019, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    22. Tamás Csermely & Alexander Rabas, 2014. "How to reveal people's preferences: Comparing time consistency and predictive power of multiple price list risk elicitation methods," Department of Economics Working Papers wuwp185, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Department of Economics.
    23. Sascha Füllbrunn & Wolfgang J. Luhan, 2015. "Am I my Peer‘s Keeper? Social Responsibility in Financial Decision Making," Ruhr Economic Papers 0551, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    24. Lionel Page & Daniel G. Goldstein, 2016. "Subjective beliefs about the income distribution and preferences for redistribution," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(1), pages 25-61, June.
    25. Jasper Knockaert & Stefanie Peer & Erik Verhoef, 2016. "Identification of self-selection biases in field experiments using stated preference experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00568, The Field Experiments Website.

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    Keywords

    laboratory experiments; risk aversion; loss aversion; internet surveys;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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