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Measuring Individual Risk Attitudes in the Lab: Task or Ask? An Empirical Comparison

  • Jan-Erik Lönnqvist
  • Markku Verkasalo
  • Gari Walkowitz
  • Philipp C. Wichardt

This paper compares two prominent empirical measures of individual risk attitudes — the Holt and Laury (2002) lottery-choice task and the multi-item questionnaire advocated by Dohmen, Falk, Huffman, Schupp, Sunde and Wagner (2011) — with respect to (a) their within-subject stability over time (one year) and (b) their correlation with actual risk-taking behaviour in the lab — here the amount sent in a trust game (Berg, Dickaut, McCabe, 1995). As it turns out, the measures themselves are uncorrelated (both times) and, most importantly, only the questionnaire measure exhibits test-retest stability (? = .78), while virtually no such stability is found in the lottery-choice task. In addition, only the questionnaire measure shows the expected correlations with a Big Five personality measure and is correlated with actual risk-taking behaviour. The results suggest that the questionnaire is the more adequate measure of individual risk attitudes for the analysis of behaviour in economic (lab)experiments. Moreover, with respect to behaviour in the trust game, we find a high re-test stability of transfers (? = .70). This further supports the conjecture that trusting behaviour indeed has a component which itself is a stable individual characteristic (Glaeser, Laibson, Scheinkman and Soutter, 2000)

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File URL: https://www.ifw-members.ifw-kiel.de/publications/measuring-individual-risk-attitudes-in-the-lab-task-or-ask-an-empirical-comparison/KWP-1905.pdf
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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1905.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1905
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  1. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. John D Hey & Andrea Morone & Ulrich Schmidt, 2007. "Noise and Bias in Eliciting Preferences," Discussion Papers 07/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
  3. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2620, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2004. "Trust, risk and betrayal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 467-484, December.
  5. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2000. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Virginia Economics Online Papers 345, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  6. Ben-Ner, Avner & Halldorsson, Freyr, 2010. "Trusting and trustworthiness: What are they, how to measure them, and what affects them," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 64-79, February.
  7. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2013. "Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  8. Daniel Houser & Daniel Schunk & Joachim Winter, 2009. "Distinguishing trust from risk: an anatomy of the investment game," IEW - Working Papers 450, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. 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.
  10. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting: Productivity, Preferences, and Gender," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 556-90, April.
  11. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2003. "Risk averse behavior in generalized matching pennies games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 97-113, October.
  12. Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Economics Working Papers E00-279, University of California at Berkeley.
  13. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  14. Ernst Fehr, 2009. "On the economics and biology of trust," IEW - Working Papers 399, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Lost In State Space: Are Preferences Stable?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 1091-1112, 08.
  17. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
  18. Nigel Nicholson & Emma Soane & Mark Fenton-O'Creevy & Paul Willman, 2005. "Personality and domain-specific risk taking," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 157-176, March.
  19. 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.
  20. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," CEPR Discussion Papers 6844, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
  22. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  23. 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.
  24. Isaac, R Mark & James, Duncan, 2000. "Just Who Are You Calling Risk Averse?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-87, March.
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