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Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk

  • Pedro Bordalo
  • Nicola Gennaioli
  • Andrei Shleifer

We present a theory of choice among lotteries in which the decision maker's attention is drawn to (precisely defined) salient payoffs. This leads the decision maker to a context-dependent representation of lotteries in which true probabilities are replaced by decision weights distorted in favor of salient payoffs. By endogenizing decision weights as a function of payoffs, our model provides a novel and unified account of many empirical phenomena, including frequent risk-seeking behavior, invariance failures such as the Allais paradox, and preference reversals. It also yields new predictions, including some that distinguish it from Prospect Theory, which we test. We also use the model to modify the standard asset pricing framework, and use that application to explore the well-known growth/value anomaly in finance.

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Paper provided by Harvard University OpenScholar in its series Working Paper with number 29210.

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Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:29210
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  1. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "What Comes to Mind," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1399-1433, November.
  2. John Leland, 2010. "Generalized Similarity Judgments: An Alternative Explanation for Choice Anomalies," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7644, David K. Levine.
  3. Botond Koszegi & Adam Szeidl, 2013. "A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 53-104.
  4. Bordalo, Pedro & Gennaioli, Nicola & Shleifer, Andrei, 2012. "Salience and Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect," Scholarly Articles 10636304, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Grether, David M & Plott, Charles R, 1979. "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 623-38, September.
  6. Yusufcan Masatlioglu & Daisuke Nakajima & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2012. "Revealed Attention," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2183-2205, August.
  7. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  9. Xavier Gabaix, 2011. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," NBER Working Papers 16911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michael H. Birnbaum & Ulrich Schmidt, 2010. "Allais Paradoxes Can be Reversed by Presenting Choices in Canonical Split Form," Kiel Working Papers 1615, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  11. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1983. "A Rationale for Preference Reversal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 428-32, June.
  12. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  13. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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