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The effect of decentralized behavioral decision making on system-level risk

Listed author(s):
  • Kaivanto, Kim

Certain classes of system-level risk depend partly on decentralized lay decision making. For instance, an organization's network security risk depends partly on its employees' responses to phishing attacks. On a larger scale, the risk within a financial system depends partly on households' responses to mortgage sales pitches. Behavioral economics shows that lay decision makers typically depart in systematic ways from the normative rationality of Expected Utility (EU), and instead display heuristics and biases as captured in the more descriptively accurate Prospect Theory (PT). In turn psychological studies show that successful deception ploys eschew direct logical argumentation and instead employ peripheral-route persuasion, manipulation of visceral emotions, urgency, and familiar contextual cues. The detection of phishing emails and inappropriate mortgage contracts may be framed as a binary classification task. Signal Detection Theory (SDT) offers the standard normative solution, formulated as an optimal cutoff threshold, for distinguishing between good/bad emails or mortgages. In this paper we extend SDT behaviorally by re-deriving the optimal cutoff threshold under PT. Furthermore we incorporate the psychology of deception into determination of SDT's discriminability parameter. With the neo-additive probability weighting function, the optimal cutoff threshold under PT is rendered unique under well-behaved sampling distributions, tractable in computation, and transparent in interpretation. The PT-based cutoff threshold is (i) independent of loss aversion and (ii) more conservative than the classical SDT cutoff threshold. Independently of any possible misalignment between individual-level and system-level misclassification costs, decentralized behavioral decision makers are biased toward under-detection, and system-level risk is consequently greater than in analyses predicated upon normative rationality.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/65972/1/CPT_SDT_RAv5.0_post-print.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 65972.

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Date of creation: 2014
Publication status: Published in Risk Analysis 12.34(2014): pp. 2121-2142
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:65972
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  1. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Frank Vossmann & Martin Weber, 2005. "Choice-Based Elicitation and Decomposition of Decision Weights for Gains and Losses Under Uncertainty," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(9), pages 1384-1399, September.
  2. Ulrich Schmidt & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2008. "Third-generation prospect theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 203-223, June.
  3. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
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  6. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
  7. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Olivier L’Haridon & Horst Zank, 2010. "Separating curvature and elevation: A parametric probability weighting function," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 39-65, August.
  8. Peter Jarnebrant & Olivier Toubia & Eric Johnson, 2009. "The Silver Lining Effect: Formal Analysis and Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(11), pages 1832-1841, November.
  9. W. Viscusi & William Evans, 2006. "Behavioral Probabilities," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 5-15, January.
  10. Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.
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