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Uncertainty Equivalents: Testing the Limits of the Independence Axiom

  • James Andreoni
  • Charles Sprenger

There is convincing experimental evidence that Expected Utility fails, but when does it fail, how severely, and for what fraction of subjects? We explore these questions using a novel measure we call the uncertainty equivalent. We find Expected Utility performs well away from certainty, but fails near certainty for about 40% of subjects. Comparing non-Expected Utility theories, we strongly reject Prospect Theory probability weighting, we support disappointment aversion if amended to allow violations of stochastic dominance, but find the u-v model of a direct preference for certainty the most parsimonious approach.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17342.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17342
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  9. Han Bleichrodt & José María Abellán-Perpiñan & JoséLuis Pinto & Ildefonso Méndez-Martínez, 2005. "Resolving inconsistencies in utility measurement under risk: Tests of generalizations of expected utility," Economics Working Papers 798, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  10. Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
  11. Adam S. Booij & Bernard M.S. Van Praag & Gijs Van De Kuilen, 2009. "A Parametric Analysis of Prospect Theory's Functionals for the General Population," CESifo Working Paper Series 2609, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Ondřej Rydval & Andreas Ortmann & Sasha Prokosheva & Ralph Hertwig, 2009. "How certain is the uncertainty effect?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(4), pages 473-487, December.
  13. Sarah Jacobson & Ragan Petrie, 2009. "Learning from mistakes: What do inconsistent choices over risk tell us?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 143-158, April.
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  19. Oliver, Adam, 2007. "A Qualitative Analysis Of The Lottery Equivalents Method," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 185-204, July.
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