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The Descriptive and Predictive Adequacy of Theories of Decision Making Under Uncertainty/Ambiguity

  • John D Hey
  • Gianna Lotito
  • Anna Maffioletti

In this paper we examine the performance of theories of decision making under uncertainty/ambiguity from the perspective of their descriptive and predictive power, taking into account the relative parsimony of the various theories. To this end, we employ an innovative experimental design which enables us to reproduce ambiguity in the laboratory in a transparent and non-probabilistic way. We find that judging theories on the basis of their theoretical appeal, or on their ability to do well in testing contexts, is not the same as judging them on the basis of their explanatory and predictive power. We also find that the more elegant theoretical models do not perform as well as simple rules of thumb.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 08/04.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:08/04
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
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  1. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  2. Peter Klibanoff & Massimo Marinacci & Sujoy Mukerji, 2002. "A smooth model of decision making under ambiguity," ICER Working Papers - Applied Mathematics Series 11-2003, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research, revised Apr 2003.
  3. Wilcox, Nathaniel, 2007. "Stochastically more risk averse: A contextual theory of stochastic discrete choice under risk," MPRA Paper 11851, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Ghirardato, Paolo & Maccheroni, Fabio & Marinacci, Massimo, 2004. "Differentiating ambiguity and ambiguity attitude," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(2), pages 133-173, October.
  5. David Ahn & Syngjoo Choi & Douglas Gale & Shachar Kariv, 2014. "Estimating ambiguity aversion in a portfolio choice experiment," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 195-223, 07.
  6. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
  7. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
  8. Peter Moffatt & Simon Peters, 2001. "Testing for the Presence of a Tremble in Economic Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 221-228, December.
  9. Segal, Uzi, 1987. "The Ellsberg Paradox and Risk Aversion: An Anticipated Utility Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 175-202, February.
  10. Stoye, Jörg, 2011. "Axioms for minimax regret choice correspondences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(6), pages 2226-2251.
  11. Halevy, Yoram, 2005. "Ellsberg Revisited: an Experimental Study," working papers halevy-05-07-26-11-51-13, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 25 Feb 2014.
  12. John Hey & Jinkwon Lee, 2005. "Do Subjects Separate (or Are They Sophisticated)?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 233-265, September.
  13. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  14. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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