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Starting points' effects on risk-taking behavior

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  • Schade, Christian
  • Steul, Martina
  • Schröder, Andreas

Abstract

We formally represent the effects of prior gains and losses in a simple dynamic preference calculus based on prospect theory's value function and thoughts adapted from aspiration level theories. We investigate our predictions in questionnaire experiments. Since we document a strong effect of prior gains and losses in our main study on entrepreneurial decision making, findings are consistent with a difference between the actual status quo and temporarily invariant aspiration levels. However, the general level of willingness to pay (WTP), differences between gain and loss domains, and preference orders within the gain domain are inconsistent with prospect theory's prediction. In the loss domain, results are less straightforward but only interpretable on the joint basis of prospect theory, starting point formula, and an additional survival point. Altogether, results are a challenge to prescriptive as well as descriptive models of decision making relying on context-independent value functions. Implications for a further development of descriptive decision theoretic models based on aspiration levels to account for dynamic starting points effects are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Schade, Christian & Steul, Martina & Schröder, Andreas, 2002. "Starting points' effects on risk-taking behavior," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2002,15, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200215
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Unser, Matthias, 2000. "Lower partial moments as measures of perceived risk: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 253-280, June.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    3. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    4. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
    5. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
    6. Shefrin, Hersh & Statman, Meir, 1985. " The Disposition to Sell Winners Too Early and Ride Losers Too Long: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 777-790, July.
    7. Weber, Martin & Camerer, Colin F., 1998. "The disposition effect in securities trading: an experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 167-184, January.
    8. Fiegenbaum, Avi, 1990. "Prospect theory and the risk-return association : An empirical examination in 85 industries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 187-203, October.
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