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Problems of utility and prospect theories. A ”certain-uncertain” inconsistency of the random-lottery incentive system

Listed author(s):
  • Harin, Alexander

Three main groups of results have been obtained: 1) The question is emphasized whether the probability weighting function W(p) is continuous. If W(p) reveals a discontinuity at p=1, then this is a topological feature. This can qualitatively change (at least) the mathematical aspects of the utility and prospect theories. This is supported by a number of the evidences of the qualitative difference between subjects’ treatments of the probabilities of probable and certain outcomes. 2) Purely mathematical theorems prove (under several conditions) that if the dispersion of data (the noise) is non-zero, then the non-zero discontinuity take place at the probability p=1. 3) In the prevailing random-lottery incentive system of the experiments of the utility and prospect theories, the choices of certain outcomes are stimulated by uncertain lotteries. Because of this evident “certain-uncertain” inconsistency, the deductions from the random-lottery incentive experiments, those include the certain outcomes, cannot be unquestionably correct. The experiment of Starmer and Sugden (1991) evidently supports this consideration.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/55706/1/MPRA_paper_55706.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 55706.

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Date of creation: 03 May 2014
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:55706
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  1. Mark McCord & Richard de Neufville, 1986. ""Lottery Equivalents": Reduction of the Certainty Effect Problem in Utility Assessment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(1), pages 56-60, January.
  2. Christian A. Vossler & Maurice Doyon & Daniel Rondeau, 2012. "Truth in Consequentiality: Theory and Field Evidence on Discrete Choice Experiments," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 145-171, November.
  3. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & George Wu, 2006. "The Uncertainty Effect: When a Risky Prospect is Valued Less than its Worst Possible Outcome," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1283-1309.
  4. Yoram Halevy, 2008. "Strotz Meets Allais: Diminishing Impatience and the Certainty Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1145-1162, June.
  5. Hey, John D & Orme, Chris, 1994. "Investigating Generalizations of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1291-1326, November.
  6. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
  7. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1243-1285.
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  9. Tversky, Amos & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Anomalies: Preference Reversals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 201-211, Spring.
  10. Drazen Prelec, 1998. "The Probability Weighting Function," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 497-528, May.
  11. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
  12. Ian Larkin & Stephen Leider, 2012. "Incentive Schemes, Sorting, and Behavioral Biases of Employees: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 184-214, May.
  13. Tversky, Amos & Wakker, Peter, 1995. "Risk Attitudes and Decision Weights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1255-1280, November.
  14. Daniel Kahneman & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Anomalies: Utility Maximization and Experienced Utility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 221-234, Winter.
  15. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  16. David J. Butler & Graham C. Loomes, 2007. "Imprecision as an Account of the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 277-297, March.
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