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Ambiguity Attitudes about Investments: Evidence from the Field

Author

Listed:
  • Kanin Anantanasuwong
  • Roy Kouwenberg
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Kim Peijnenberg

Abstract

Using an incentivized survey and a representative sample of investors, we elicit ambiguity attitudes toward a familiar company stock, a local stock index, a foreign stock index, and a crypto currency. We separately estimate ambiguity aversion (ambiguity preferences) and perceived ambiguity levels (perceptions about ambiguity), while controlling for unknown likelihood beliefs. We show that ambiguity aversion is highly correlated across different assets and can be summarized by a single underlying factor. By contrast, individuals’ perceived ambiguity levels differ depending on the type of asset and cannot be summarized by a single underlying factor. Perceived ambiguity is mitigated by financial literacy and education, while the preference component is correlated with risk aversion. Perceived ambiguity proves to be related to actual investment choices, validating our measure. Finally, our results imply that policies enhancing financial literacy and knowledge of financial markets can help stimulate equity market participation and reduce inequality, as these reduce peoples’ perceived levels of ambiguity about financial assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Kanin Anantanasuwong & Roy Kouwenberg & Olivia S. Mitchell & Kim Peijnenberg, 2019. "Ambiguity Attitudes about Investments: Evidence from the Field," NBER Working Papers 25561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25561
    Note: AG LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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