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Reference Point Adaptation: Tests in the Domain of Security Trading

  • Arkes, Hal
  • Hirshleifer, David
  • Jiang, Danling
  • Lim, Sonya

According to prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979), gains and losses are measured from current wealth, which serves as a reference point. We attempted to ascertain to what extent the reference point shifts following gains or losses. In questionnaire studies we asked subjects what stock price today will generate the same utility as a previous change in a stock price. From participants’ responses we calculated the magnitude of reference point adaptation, which was significantly greater following a gain than following a loss of equivalent size. We also found the asymmetric adaptation of gains and losses persisted when a stock was included within a portfolio rather than being considered individually. In studies using financial incentives within the Becker, DeGroot, and Marschak (1964) procedure, we again noted faster adaptation of the reference point to gains than losses. We related our findings to several aspects of asset pricing and investor behavior.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 4259.

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Date of creation: 04 May 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4259
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  16. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  17. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
  18. Weber, Martin & Camerer, Colin F., 1998. "The disposition effect in securities trading: an experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 167-184, January.
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  20. 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.
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  23. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
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