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Testing axiomatizations of ambiguity aversion

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  • Chen, Daniel L.
  • Schonger, Martin

Abstract

The study of the normative and positive theory of choice under uncertainty has made major advances through thought experiments often referred to as paradoxes: the St. Petersburg paradox, the Allais paradox, the Ellsberg paradox, and the Rabin paradox. Machina proposes a new thought experiment which posits a choice between two acts that have three outcomes. As in the Ellsberg paradox there are three events, but while the Ellsberg paradox has two (monetary) outcomes in Machina there are three. Machina shows that four prominent theories of ambiguity aversion predict indifference between the acts. Introspection, however, suggests that many people might very well strictly prefer one act over the other. This paper makes four contributions: first, to our knowledge, it is the first to experimentally implement the Machina thought experiment. Second, we employ a novel method to simultaneously elicit the certainty equivalent of an embedded lottery. Third, our results—across three experiments—indicate non-indifference, which rejects earlier theories of ambiguity aversion, but is consistent with a newer one, which we apply to explain our results. Fourth, we show that independence is a sufficient condition for indifference in the Machina paradox, and thereby explains why so many models predict indifference.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Daniel L. & Schonger, Martin, 2016. "Testing axiomatizations of ambiguity aversion," IAST Working Papers 16-61, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:iastwp:31142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier L’Haridon & Lætitia Placido, 2010. "Betting on Machina’s reflection example: an experiment on ambiguity," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 375-393, September.
    2. Aurelien Baillon & Olivier L'Haridon & Laetitia Placido, 2011. "Ambiguity Models and the Machina Paradoxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1547-1560, June.
    3. Matthias Sutter & Martin G. Kocher & Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2013. "Impatience and Uncertainty: Experimental Decisions Predict Adolescents' Field Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 510-531, February.
    4. Yoram Halevy, 2007. "Ellsberg Revisited: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 503-536, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ellsberg paradox; Machina paradox; uncertainty aversion; independence axiom;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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