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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. John D Hey & Andrea Morone & Ulrich Schmidt, 2007. "Noise and Bias in Eliciting Preferences," Discussion Papers 07/04, Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2012. "The intergenerational transmission of risk and trust attitudes," Munich Reprints in Economics 20051, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2003. "Trust, Risk and Betrayal," Working Paper Series rwp03-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor, 2008. "Are Risk Preferences Stable? Comparing an Experimental Measure with a Validated Survey-Based Measure," Working Papers 74, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin, 2010. "Performance Pay and Multi-dimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  15. 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.
  16. Ernst Fehr, 2009. "On The Economics and Biology of Trust," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 235-266, 04-05.
  17. 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.
  18. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt731230f8, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  22. 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.
  23. Houser, Daniel & Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2010. "Distinguishing trust from risk: An anatomy of the investment game," Munich Reprints in Economics 19378, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  24. 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.
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