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Decision Making with Imperfect Knowledge of the State Space

  • Mengel Friederike
  • Tsakas Elias
  • Vostroknutov Alexander

    (METEOR)

We conduct an experiment to study how imperfect knowledge of the state space affects subsequent choices under uncertainty with perfect knowledge of the state space. Participants in our experiment choose between a sure outcome and a lottery in 32 periods. All treatments are exactly identical in periods 17 to 32 but differ in periods 1 to 16. In the early periods of the “Risk Treatment” there is perfect information about the lottery; in the “Ambiguity Treatment” participants perfectly know the outcome space but not the associated probabilities; in the “Unawareness Treatment” participants have imperfect knowledge about both outcomes and probabilities. All three treatments induce strong behavioural differences in periods 17 to 32. In particular participants who have been exposed to an environment with very imperfect knowledge of the state space subsequently choose lotteries with high (low) variance less (more) often compared to other participants. Estimating individual risk attitudes from choices in periods 17 to 32 we find that the distribution of risk attitude parameters across our treatments can be ranked in terms of first order stochastic dominance. Our results show how exposure to different degrees of uncertainty can have long-lasting effects on individuals’ risk-taking behaviour.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR) in its series Research Memorandum with number 013.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umamet:2011013
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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Paola Giuliano & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2009. "Growing Up in a Recession: Beliefs and the Macroeconomy," NBER Working Papers 15321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Raghunathan, Rajagopal & Pham, Michel Tuan, 1999. "All Negative Moods Are Not Equal: Motivational Influences of Anxiety and Sadness on Decision Making, , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 56-77, July.
  4. Halevy, Yoram, 2005. "Ellsberg Revisited: an Experimental Study," Microeconomics.ca working papers halevy-05-07-26-11-51-13, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 25 Feb 2014.
  5. Yasuo Nishiyama, 2006. "The Asian Financial Crisis and Investors’ Risk Aversion," Asia-Pacific Financial Markets, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 181-205, September.
  6. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo & Vostroknutov, Alexander, 2010. "Experience and insight in the Race game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 144-155, August.
  7. Gollier, Christian, 2009. "Portfolio Choices and Asset Prices: The Comparative Statics of Ambiguity Aversion," TSE Working Papers 09-068, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  8. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  9. Li, Jing, 2009. "Information structures with unawareness," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 977-993, May.
  10. Mengel, Friederike & Sciubba, Emanuela, 2014. "Extrapolation and structural similarity in games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(3), pages 381-385.
  11. Eddie Dekel & Barton L. Lipman & Aldo Rustichini, 1998. "Standard State-Space Models Preclude Unawareness," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 159-174, January.
  12. Halpern, Joseph Y. & Rego, Leandro Chaves, 2008. "Interactive unawareness revisited," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 232-262, January.
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