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Preference for Skew in Lotteries: Evidence from the Laboratory

  • Thomas Astebro
  • José Mata
  • Luis Santos-Pinto

Using a laboratory experiment we investigate how skew inuences choices under risk. We find that subjects make significantly riskier choices when the distribution of payoffs is positively skewed, these choices being driven in part by the shape of the utility function but also by subjective distortion of probabilities. A utility model with probability distortion calibrated on laboratory data is able to explain why most gamblers in public lotteries buy only a small number of tickets.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 09.09.

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Length: 25 pp. + tables and figures
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:09.09
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.20
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  1. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1997. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory and Anticipatory Feelings," Working Papers 97-37, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutstr�m, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  3. David Schmeidler, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7662, David K. Levine.
  4. Todd Mitton & Keith Vorkink, 2007. "Equilibrium Underdiversification and the Preference for Skewness," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(4), pages 1255-1288.
  5. Merton, Robert C., 1971. "Optimum consumption and portfolio rules in a continuous-time model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 373-413, December.
  6. Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
  7. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  8. Glenn W Harrison & John A List & Charles Towe, 2007. "Naturally Occurring Preferences and Exogenous Laboratory Experiments: A Case Study of Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 433-458, 03.
  9. Alok Kumar, 2009. "Who Gambles in the Stock Market?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1889-1933, 08.
  10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  11. Conlisk, John, 1993. " The Utility of Gambling," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 255-75, June.
  12. repec:feb:framed:0074 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. George Wu & Richard Gonzalez, 1996. "Curvature of the Probability Weighting Function," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(12), pages 1676-1690, December.
  14. Jonathan Ingersoll, 2008. "Non-Monotonicity of the Tversky-Kahneman Probability-Weighting Function: A Cautionary Note," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 14(3), pages 385-390.
  15. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  16. 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.
  17. Campbell R. Harvey & Akhtar Siddique, 2000. "Conditional Skewness in Asset Pricing Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1263-1295, 06.
  18. Walker, Ian & Young, Juliet, 2001. "An Economist's Guide to Lottery Design," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(475), pages F700-722, November.
  19. Garrett, Thomas A. & Sobel, Russell S., 1999. "Gamblers favor skewness, not risk: Further evidence from United States' lottery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 85-90, April.
  20. Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.
  21. Kraus, Alan & Litzenberger, Robert H, 1976. "Skewness Preference and the Valuation of Risk Assets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1085-1100, September.
  22. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  23. Blume, Marshall E & Friend, Irwin, 1975. "The Asset Structure of Individual Portfolios and Some Implications for Utility Functions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 30(2), pages 585-603, May.
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