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Consistent and inconsistent choices under uncertainty: The role of cognitive abilities

Author

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  • Amador, Luis
  • Brañas-Garza, Pablo
  • Espín, Antonio M.
  • Garcia, Teresa
  • Hernández, Ana

Abstract

There is an intense debate whether decision making under uncertainty is partially driven by cognitive abilities. The critical issue is whether choices arising from subjects with lower cognitive abilities are more likely driven by errors or lack of understanding than pure preferences for risk. The latter implies that the often argued link between risk preferences and cognitive abilities might be a spurious correlation. This experiment reports evidence from a sample of 556 participants who made choices in risk-related tasks about winning and losing money and completed three cognitive tasks, all with real monetary incentives: number-additions under time pressure (including incentive-compatible expected number of correct additions), the Cognitive Refection Test (to measure analytical/reflective thinking) and the Remote Associates Test (for convergent thinking). Results are unambiguous: none of our cognition measures plays any systematic role on risky decision making. Our data indeed suggest that cognitive abilities are negatively associated with noisy, inconsistent choices, which might have led to spurious correlations with risk preferences in previous studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Amador, Luis & Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Espín, Antonio M. & Garcia, Teresa & Hernández, Ana, 2019. "Consistent and inconsistent choices under uncertainty: The role of cognitive abilities," MPRA Paper 95178, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:95178
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Taylor, Matthew P., 2020. "Heterogeneous motivation and cognitive ability in the lab," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 85(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    decision making under uncertainty; cognitive abilities; online experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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