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Understanding the Two Components of Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Analysis

  • Jianying Qiu


    (Department of Economics, University of Innsbruck)

  • Eva-Maria Steiger


    (Stratigic Interaction Group, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

Economics and management science share the tradition of ordering risk aversion by ï¬ tting the best expected utility (EU) model with a certain utility function to individual data, and then using the utility curvature for each individual as the sole index of risk attitude. (Cumulative) Prospect theory (CPT) has demonstrated various empirical deï¬ ciencies of EU and introduced the weighting of probabilities as an additional component to capture risk attitude. However, if utility curvature and probability weighting were strongly correlated, the utility curvature in EU alone, while not properly describing risky behavior in general, would still capture most of the variance regarding degrees of risk aversion. This study shows, however, that such a strong correlation does not exist. Though, most individuals exhibit concave utility and convex probability weighting, the two components show no correlation. Thus neglecting one component entails a loss.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2009-088.

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Date of creation: 02 Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2009-088
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  6. van de Kuilen, G. & Wakker, P.P., 2011. "The midweight method to measure attitudes towards risk and ambiguity," Other publications TiSEM c58a6884-24cc-4cab-ae2f-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.
  9. Han Bleichrodt & Jose Luis Pinto, 2000. "A Parameter-Free Elicitation of the Probability Weighting Function in Medical Decision Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1485-1496, November.
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