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Ellsberg Paradox and Second-order Preference Theories on Ambiguity: Some New Experimental Evidence


  • Yang, Chun-Lei
  • Yao, Lan


We study the two-color problem by Ellsberg (1961) with the modification that the decision maker draws twice with replacement and a different color wins in each draw. The 50-50 risky urn turns out to have the highest risk conceivable among all prospects including the ambiguous one, while all feasible color distributions are mean-preserving spreads to one another. We show that the well-known second-order sophisticated theories like MEU, CEU, and REU as well as Savage’s first-order theory of SEU share the same predictions in our design, for any first-order risk attitude. Yet, we observe that substantial numbers of subjects violate the theory predictions even in this simple design.

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  • Yang, Chun-Lei & Yao, Lan, 2011. "Ellsberg Paradox and Second-order Preference Theories on Ambiguity: Some New Experimental Evidence," MPRA Paper 28531, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28531

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yoram Halevy & Vincent Feltkamp, 2005. "A Bayesian Approach to Uncertainty Aversion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(2), pages 449-466.
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    3. Segal, Uzi, 1987. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 175-202, February.
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    5. Robert F. Nau, 2006. "Uncertainty Aversion with Second-Order Utilities and Probabilities," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(1), pages 136-145, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon & Klibanoff, Peter & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2000. "Maxmin Expected Utility over Savage Acts with a Set of Priors," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 35-65, May.
    8. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    9. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. "Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-370, October.
    10. Kyoungwon Seo, 2009. "Ambiguity and Second-Order Belief," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1575-1605, September.
    11. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2005. "A Smooth Model of Decision Making under Ambiguity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1849-1892, November.
    12. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Peter Klibanoff & Emre Ozdenoren, 1998. "Maximum Expected Utility over Savage Acts with a Set of Priors," Discussion Papers 1218, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    13. Jack Stecher & Timothy Shields & John Dickhaut (deceased), 2011. "Generating Ambiguity in the Laboratory," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(4), pages 705-712, April.
    14. Yoram Halevy, 2007. "Ellsberg Revisited: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 503-536, March.
    15. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
    16. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. "Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
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    More about this item


    Ellsberg paradox; Ambiguity; Second-order risk; Second-order preference theory; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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