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Ambiguity aversion is the exception

Author

Listed:
  • Martin G. Kocher
  • Amrei Marie Lahno
  • Stefan T. Trautmann

Abstract

An extensive literature has studied ambiguity aversion in economic decision making, and how ambiguity aversion can account for empirically observed violations of expected utility-based theories. Almost all relevant applied models presume a general dislike of ambiguity. In this paper, we provide a systematic experimental assessment of ambiguity attitudes in different likelihood ranges and in the gain domain, the loss domain and with mixed outcomes. We draw on a unified framework with more than 500 participants and find that ambiguity aversion is the exception, not the rule. We replicate the usual finding of ambiguity aversion for moderate likelihood gains. However, when introducing losses or lower likelihoods, we observe either ambiguity neutrality or even ambiguity seeking behavior. Our results are robust to different elicitation procedures.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin G. Kocher & Amrei Marie Lahno & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2015. "Ambiguity aversion is the exception," QuBE Working Papers 033, QUT Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:qut:qubewp:wp033
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & Edi Karni & Dan Levin, 2013. "Ambiguity attitudes and social interactions: An experimental investigation," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 1-25, February.
    2. 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.
    3. Carmela Di Mauro & Anna Maffioletti, 2004. "Attitudes to risk and attitudes to uncertainty: experimental evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(4), pages 357-372.
    4. Berger, Loïc & Bleichrodt, Han & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 2013. "Treatment decisions under ambiguity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 559-569.
    5. 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.
    6. Christian Gollier, 2011. "Portfolio Choices and Asset Prices: The Comparative Statics of Ambiguity Aversion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1329-1344.
    7. David Easley & Maureen O'Hara, 2009. "Ambiguity and Nonparticipation: The Role of Regulation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(5), pages 1817-1843, May.
    8. Aurélien Baillon & Han Bleichrodt, 2015. "Testing Ambiguity Models through the Measurement of Probabilities for Gains and Losses," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 77-100, May.
    9. Arthur Snow, 2011. "Ambiguity aversion and the propensities for self-insurance and self-protection," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 27-43, February.
    10. Budescu, David V. & Kuhn, Kristine M. & Kramer, Karen M. & Johnson, Timothy R., 2002. "Erratum to "Modeling certainty equivalents for imprecise gambles" [Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 88 (2002) 748-768]," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 1214-1213, November.
    11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    12. Pascal J. Maenhout, 2004. "Robust Portfolio Rules and Asset Pricing," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 17(4), pages 951-983.
    13. Dale O. Stah, 2014. "Heterogeneity of Ambiguity Preferences," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 609-617, October.
    14. Michael Hoy & Richard Peter & Andreas Richter, 2014. "Take-up for genetic tests and ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 111-133, April.
    15. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jrisks:v:4:y:2016:i:1:p:8:d:66161 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alex Voorhoeve & Ken Binmore & Arnaldur Stefansson & Lisa Stewart, 2016. "Ambiguity attitudes, framing, and consistency," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 81(3), pages 313-337, September.
    3. Björk, Lisa & Kocher, Martin & Martinsson, Peter & Nam Khanh, Pham, 2016. "Cooperation under risk and ambiguity," Working Papers in Economics 683, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. repec:eee:jetheo:v:169:y:2017:i:c:p:344-364 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Massimiliano Amarante & Mario Ghossoub, 2016. "Optimal Insurance for a Minimal Expected Retention: The Case of an Ambiguity-Seeking Insurer," Risks, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, March.
    6. Christoph M. Rheinberger & Nicolas Treich, 2017. "Attitudes Toward Catastrophe," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 67(3), pages 609-636, July.
    7. repec:kap:jrisku:v:54:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11166-017-9262-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Özgür Evren, 2017. "Cautious and Globally Ambiguity Averse," Working Papers w0236, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    ambiguity aversion; decision under uncertainty; Ellsberg experiments;

    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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