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Ambiguity Attitudes and Social Interactions: An Experimental Investigation

  • Gary Charness
  • Edi Karni
  • Dan Levin

This paper reports the results of experiments designed to test (a) whether and to what extent individuals display non-neutral ambiguity attitudes in their choice behavior and (b) if and how do ambiguity attitudes change as a result of interpersonal interactions and persuasion. To address the first question we designed and conducted experiments involving individual choice between betting on ambiguous and unambiguous events of their choice. We found that a large majority of subjects display ambiguity-neutral attitudes, many others display ambiguity-incoherent attitudes, and few subjects display either ambiguity-averse attitudes or ambiguity-seeking attitudes. To address the second question we introduced a new experimental design with a built-in incentive to persuade. We found that interpersonal interactions without incentive to persuade have no effect on behavior, but when incentives were introduced, the ambiguity-neutral subjects were better able to persuade ambiguity seeking and ambiguity-incoherent subjects to follow ambiguity-neutral choice behavior. No such influence was detected with respect to ambiguity-neutral subjects.

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Paper provided by The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number 590.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:jhu:papers:590
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  1. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  2. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  3. Yoram Halevy, 2007. "Ellsberg Revisited: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 503-536, 03.
  4. Sujoy Mukerji & Peter Klibanoff, 2002. "A Smooth Model of Decision,Making Under Ambiguity," Economics Series Working Papers 113, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Frohlich, Norman & Oppenheimer, Joe & Bernard Moore, J., 2001. "Some doubts about measuring self-interest using dictator experiments: the costs of anonymity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 271-290, November.
  7. Edi Karni, 2009. "On the Conjunction Fallacy in Probability Judgment: New Experimental Evidence Regarding Linda," Economics Working Paper Archive 552, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  8. Chow, Clare Chua & Sarin, Rakesh K, 2001. " Comparative Ignorance and the Ellsberg Paradox," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 129-39, March.
  9. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter & Medhin, Haileselassie & Trautmann, Stefan T., 2009. "Attitudes toward Uncertainty among the Poor: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia," IZA Discussion Papers 4225, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  11. Stefan T. Trautmann & Ferdinand M. Vieider & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "Preference Reversals for Ambiguity Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1320-1333, July.
  12. Peter Bossaerts & Paolo Ghirardato & Serena Guarnaschelli & William R. Zame, 2006. "Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 27, Collegio Carlo Alberto, revised 2009.
  13. Soo Chew & Richard Ebstein & Songfa Zhong, 2012. "Ambiguity aversion and familiarity bias: Evidence from behavioral and gene association studies," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 1-18, February.
  14. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7vz7w609, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  15. David Ahn & Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2008. "Estimating Ambiguity Aversion in a Portfolio Choice Experiment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001989, David K. Levine.
  16. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  17. Gary Charness & Edi Karni & Dan Levin, 2007. "Individual and group decision making under risk: An experimental study of Bayesian updating and violations of first-order stochastic dominance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 129-148, October.
  18. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Aurelien Baillon & Laetitia Placido & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 695-723, April.
  19. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
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