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Reference dependent ambiguity aversion: theory and experiment

Author

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  • Qiu, Jianying
  • Weitzel, Utz

Abstract

In standard models of ambiguity, the evaluation of an ambiguous asset, as of a risky asset, is considered as an independent process. In this process only information directly pertaining to the ambiguous asset is used. These models face significant challenges from the finding that ambiguity aversion is more pronounced when an ambiguous asset is evaluated alongside a risky asset than in isolation. To explain this phenomenon, we developed a theoretical model based on reference dependence in probabilities. According to this model, individuals (1) form subjective beliefs on the potential winning probability of the ambiguous asset; (2) use the winning probability of the (simultaneously presented) risky asset as a reference point to evaluate the potential winning probabilities of the ambiguous asset; (3) code potential winning probabilities of the ambiguous asset that are greater than the reference point as gains and those that are smaller than the reference point as losses; (4) weight losses in probability heavier than gains in probability. We tested the crucial assumption, reference dependence in probabilities, in an experiment and found supporting evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiu, Jianying & Weitzel, Utz, 2011. "Reference dependent ambiguity aversion: theory and experiment," MPRA Paper 35289, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Dec 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35289
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/35289/3/MPRA_paper_35289.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:zbw:rwirep:0440 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ralf Bergheim & Michael W.M. Roos, 2013. "Intuition and Reasoning in Choosing Ambiguous and Risky Lotteries," Ruhr Economic Papers 0440, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Bergheim, Ralf & Roos, Michael W. M., 2013. "Intuition and Reasoning in Choosing Ambiguous and Risky Lotteries," Ruhr Economic Papers 440, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ambiguity Aversion; Reference Point; Comparison; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

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