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Risk Aversion When Gains Are Likely and Unlikely: Evidence from a Natural Experiment with Large Stakes


  • Pavlo Blavatskyy
  • Ganna Pogrebna


In the television show Affari Tuoi a contestant is endowed with a sealed box containing a monetary prize between one cent and half a million euros. In the course of the show the contestant learns more information about the distribution of possible monetary prizes inside her box. Consider two groups of contestants, who learned that the chances of their boxes containing a large prize are 20% and 80% correspondingly. Contestants in both groups receive qualitatively similar price offers for selling the content of their boxes. If contestants are less risk averse when facing unlikely gains, the price offer is likely to be more frequently rejected in the first group than in the second group. However, the fraction of rejections is virtually identical across two groups. Thus, contestants appear to have identical risk attitudes over (large) gains of low and high probability.

Suggested Citation

  • Pavlo Blavatskyy & Ganna Pogrebna, 2006. "Risk Aversion When Gains Are Likely and Unlikely: Evidence from a Natural Experiment with Large Stakes," IEW - Working Papers 278, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:278

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-970, September.
    2. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Schotman, Peter C, 2001. "Measuring Risk Attitudes in a Natural Experiment: Data from the Television Game Show Lingo," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 821-848, October.
    3. Bennett, Randall W. & Hickman, Kent A., 1993. "Rationality and the 'price is right'," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-105, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gee, C., 2007. "Risky Choice and Type-Uncertainty in "Deal or No Deal?"," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0758, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    risk attitude; risk aversion; risk seeking; natural experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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