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Do Professionals Get It Right? Limited Attention and Risk-Taking Behavior

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  • Foellmi, Reto

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  • Legge, Stefan

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  • Schmid, Lukas

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Abstract

Does information processing affect individual risk-taking behavior? In this paper, we provide evidence that professional athletes suffer from a left-digit bias when dealing with signals about differences in performance. Using data from the highly competitive field of World Cup alpine skiing for the period of 1992-2014, we show that athletes misinterpret actual differences in race times by focusing on the leftmost digit, resulting in increased risk-taking behavior. For the estimation of causal effects, we exploit the fact that tiny time differences can be attributed to random shocks. We link our findings to prior research in psychology and economics, suggesting that different ways of information processing can explain our results. In contrast to recent studies in the field of behavioral economics, we then argue that high stakes and individual experience can magnify behavioral biases.

Suggested Citation

  • Foellmi, Reto & Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas, 2015. "Do Professionals Get It Right? Limited Attention and Risk-Taking Behavior," Economics Working Paper Series 1511, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2015:11
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    File URL: http://ux-tauri.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1511.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joshua Goodman & Oded Gurantz & Jonathan Smith, 2020. "Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 115-158, May.
    2. Armando N. Meier, 2019. "Emotions, Risk Attitudes, and Patience," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1041, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Dainis Zegners & Uwe Sunde & Anthony Strittmatter, 2020. "On the Causes and Consequences of Deviations from Rational Behavior," Papers 2005.12638, arXiv.org.
    4. Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas, 2016. "Media attention and betting markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 304-333.
    5. Matthew Gould & Matthew D. Rablen, 2019. "Are World Leaders Loss Averse?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7763, CESifo.
    6. Czibor, Eszter & Claussen, Jörg & van Praag, Mirjam, 2019. "Women in a men’s world: Risk taking in an online card game community," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 62-89.
    7. Garz, Marcel, 2018. "Effects of unemployment news on economic perceptions – Evidence from German Federal States," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 172-190.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk Taking; Limited Attention; Left-Digit Bias;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • 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
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism

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