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Reflections on gains and losses: A 2x2x7 experiment

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Abstract

We test whether risk attitudes change when losses instead of gains are involved. The study of gain-loss asymmetries has been largely confined to “reflected” choices, where all the money amounts of a positive prospect are multiplied by minus one. We define the decomposition “reflection = translation + probability switch,” and experimentally find both a translation effect (risk attraction becomes more frequent when gains are translated into losses) and a probability switch effect (risk attraction becomes more frequent when the probability of the best outcome decreases). Surprisingly, the switch effect is somewhat stronger than the translation effect, negating a conventional reflection effect when one starts with choices between gains with a low probability of the best outcome. We conclude by arguing that, while both the translation effect and the switch effect contradict the expected utility hypothesis, the translation effect implies a deeper violation of standard preference theory.

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  • Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2002. "Reflections on gains and losses: A 2x2x7 experiment," Economics Working Papers 640, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Feb 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:640
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    Cited by:

    1. Antoni Bosch & Joaquim Silvestre, 2003. "Do the Wealthy Risk More Money? An Experimental Comparison," Working Papers 10, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    2. Bosch-Domènech, Antoni & Silvestre, Joaquim, 2010. "Averting risk in the face of large losses: Bernoulli vs. Tversky and Kahneman," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 180-182, May.
    3. Rick Harbaugh, 2005. "Prospect Theory or Skill Signaling?," Working Papers 2005-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    4. Chakravarty, Sugato & Jain, Pankaj & Upson, James & Wood, Robert, 2012. "Clean Sweep: Informed Trading through Intermarket Sweep Orders," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(02), pages 415-435, June.
    5. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & Joaquim Silvestre, 2006. "Risk aversion and embedding bias," Economics Working Papers 934, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    6. De Giorgi, Enrico & Hens, Thorsten & Post, Thierry, 2005. "Prospect Theory and the Size and Value Premium Puzzles," Discussion Papers 2005/20, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reflection effect; risk attraction; risk aversion; gains; losses; experiments; Leex;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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