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The Common Ratio Effect in Choice, Pricing, and Happiness Tasks

Listed author(s):
  • Mark Schneider

    (Chapman University)

  • Mikhael Shor

    (University of Connecticut)

The Allais common ratio effect is one of the most robust violations of rational decision making under risk. In this paper, we conduct a novel test of the common ratio effect in which we elicit preferences for the common ratio choice alternatives in choice, pricing, and happiness rating tasks. We find that both the consistency and distribution of responses differs systematically across tasks, with modal choices replicating the Allais preference pattern, modal happiness ratings exhibiting consistent risk aversion, and modal prices maximizing expected value. We discuss the predictions of various cognitive explanations of the common ratio effect in the context of our experiment. We find that a dual process framework provides the most complete account of our results. Surprisingly, we also find that although the Allais pattern was the modal behavior in the choice task, none of the 158 respondents in our experiment exhibited the Allais pattern simultaneously in choice, happiness, and pricing tasks. Our results constitute a new paradox for the leading theories of choice under risk. JEL Classification: Key words: Common Ratio Effect; Preference Reversals; Dual Processes; Happiness Ratings

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2016-29.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2016-29.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: May 2016
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2016-29
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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  1. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1998. "Testing Different Stochastic Specifications of Risky Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(260), pages 581-598, November.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
  3. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
  4. 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.
  5. Manel Baucells & Franz Heukamp, 2010. "Common ratio using delay," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 68(1), pages 149-158, February.
  6. Pedro Bordalo & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2012. "Salience Theory of Choice Under Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1243-1285.
  7. Harless, David W, 1992. "Actions versus Prospects: The Effect of Problem Representation on Regret," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 634-649, June.
  8. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  9. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  10. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1988. "Similarity and decision-making under risk (is there a utility theory resolution to the Allais paradox?)," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 145-153, October.
  11. Schneider, Mark & Coulter, Robin A., 2015. "A Dual Process Evaluability Framework for decision anomalies," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 183-198.
  12. Pavlo R. Blavatskyy, 2010. "Reverse Common Ratio Effect," IEW - Working Papers 478, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Leland, Jonathan W, 1994. "Generalized Similarity Judgments: An Alternative Explanation for Choice Anomalies," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 151-172, October.
  14. Kristina Shampanier & Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2007. "Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(6), pages 742-757, 11-12.
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