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Reference Point Formation Over Time: A Weighting Function Approach


  • Baucells, Manel

    () (IESE Business School)

  • Weber, Martin

    () (Lehrstuhl für ABWL, Finanzwirtschaft, insb. Bankbetriebslehre)

  • Welfens, Frank

    () (Lehrstuhl für ABWL, Finanzwirtschaft, insb. Bankbetriebslehre)


Although the concept of reference point dependent preferences has been adopted to almost all fields of behavioral economics, especially marketing and behavioral finance, we still know very little about how decision makers form their reference points given a sequence of prices. Our paper provides both a theoretical framework on reference point formation over time, based on cumulative prospect theory’s s-shaped weighting function, and a new experimental method for eliciting subjects’ individual reference points in a finance context. Consistent with our model, we document our subjects’ reference points to be best described by the first and the last price of the time series, with the equally weighted average and the highest price receiving smaller weights.. Results, however, vary strongly on the individual level and are also affected by the elicitation question applied.

Suggested Citation

  • Baucells, Manel & Weber, Martin & Welfens, Frank, 2007. "Reference Point Formation Over Time: A Weighting Function Approach," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-43, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  • Handle: RePEc:xrs:sfbmaa:07-43 Note: Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.

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    Cited by:

    1. Schunk, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2009. "The relationship between risk attitudes and heuristics in search tasks: A laboratory experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 347-360, August.
    2. Lee, Carmen & Kräussl, Roman & Lucas, André & Paas, Leo, 2010. "Why do investors sell losers? How adaptation to losses affects future capitulation decisions," CFS Working Paper Series 2010/23, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    3. Lee, K.M.C. & Kraussl, R.G.W. & Paas, L.J., 2009. "The effect of anticipated and experienced regret and pride on investors' future selling decisions," Serie Research Memoranda 0057, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    4. Schunk, Daniel, 2009. "Behavioral heterogeneity in dynamic search situations: Theory and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1719-1738, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions


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