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Aversion to risk of regret and preference for positively skewed risks

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  • Gollier, Christian

Abstract

We assume that the ex-post utility of an agent facing a menu of lotteries depends upon the actual payoff together with its forgone best alternative, thereby allowing for the expost emotion of regret. An increase in the risk of regret is obtained when the actual payoff and its forgone best alternative are statistically less concordant in the sense of Tchen (1980). The aversion to any such risk of regret is thus equivalent to the supermodularity of the bivariate utility function. We show that more regret-risk-averse agents are more willing to choose the risky act in a one-risky-one-safe menu, in particular when the payoff of the risky choice is highly skewed. This is compatible with the "possibility effect" that is well documented in prospect theory. Symmetrically, we define the aversion to elationrisk that can prevail when the ex-post utility is alternatively sensitive to the forgone worst payoff. We show that elation-risk-seeking is compatible with the "certainty effect". We finally show that regret-risk-averse and elation-risk-seeking people behave as if they had rank-dependent utility preferences with an inverse-S shaped probability weighting function that reproduces estimates existing in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Gollier, Christian, 2016. "Aversion to risk of regret and preference for positively skewed risks," TSE Working Papers 16-646, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Sep 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:30471
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Louis Eeckhoudt & Harris Schlesinger, 2006. "Putting Risk in Its Proper Place," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 280-289, March.
    3. Zeelenberg, Marcel & Pieters, Rik, 2004. "Consequences of regret aversion in real life: The case of the Dutch postcode lottery," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 155-168, March.
    4. Rachel J Huang & Alexander Muermann & Larry Y Tzeng, 2014. "Regret and Regulation," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 39(1), pages 65-89, March.
    5. Todd Sarver, 2008. "Anticipating Regret: Why Fewer Options May Be Better," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(2), pages 263-305, March.
    6. Louis Eeckhoudt & Béatrice Rey & Harris Schlesinger, 2007. "A Good Sign for Multivariate Risk Taking," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(1), pages 117-124, January.
    7. N. Bhattacharya & T. A. Garrett, 2008. "Why people choose negative expected return assets - an empirical examination of a utility theoretic explanation," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 27-34.
    8. Garrett, Thomas A. & Sobel, Russell S., 1999. "Gamblers favor skewness, not risk: Further evidence from United States' lottery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 85-90, April.
    9. Michenaud, Sébastien & Solnik, Bruno, 2008. "Applying regret theory to investment choices: Currency hedging decisions," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 677-694, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Klaus Wälde, 2016. "Emotion Research in Economics," Working Papers 1611, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Longshot bias; certainty effect; possibility effect; probability weighting; riskseeking; prospect theory; behavioral finance;

    JEL classification:

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

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