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Ambiguity, Pessimism, and Religious Choice


  • Tigran Melkonyan

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Nevada, Reno)

  • Mark Pingle

    () (Department of Economics, University of Nevada, Reno)


Using a relatively mild restriction on the beliefs of the MMEU-apreference functional, in which the decision maker’s degree of ambiguity and degree of pessimism are each parameterized, we present a rather general theory of religious choice in the decision theory tradition, one that can resolve dilemmas, address the many Gods objection, and address the inherent ambiguity. Using comparative static analysis, we are able to show how changes in either the degree of ambiguity or the degree of pessimism can lead a decision maker to “convert” from one religion to another. We illustrate the theory of religious choice using an example where the decision maker perceives three possible religious alternatives.

Suggested Citation

  • Tigran Melkonyan & Mark Pingle, 2008. "Ambiguity, Pessimism, and Religious Choice," Working Papers 08-002, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Economics;University of Nevada, Reno , Department of Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:unr:wpaper:08-002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Siniscalchi, Marciano, 2006. "A behavioral characterization of plausible priors," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 91-135, May.
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    5. Ghirardato, Paolo & Maccheroni, Fabio & Marinacci, Massimo, 2004. "Differentiating ambiguity and ambiguity attitude," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 133-173, October.
    6. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    7. Ghirardato, Paolo & Klibanoff, Peter & Marinacci, Massimo, 1998. "Additivity with multiple priors," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 405-420, November.
    8. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. "Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-370, October.
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    10. Montgomery, James D, 1996. "Contemplations on the Economic Approach to Religious Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 443-447, May.
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    More about this item


    Religion; Decision Theory; Ambiguity; Optimism; Pessimism;

    JEL classification:

    • C44 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Operations Research; Statistical Decision Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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