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Attitudes to risk and attitudes to uncertainty: experimental evidence

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In a series of experiments the interactions among individual attitudes towards risk and uncertainty, the sign of the outcome domain, and the way uncertainty is represented are tested. This is done in a unified framework, eliciting individual values by means of a second price auction. Results confirm the presence of the well-known fourfold pattern of risk attitude (risk aversion for gains and risk seeking for losses at high probability, and risk seeking for gains and risk aversion for losses at low probability) and show that this pattern can also be extended to uncertainty. In the valuation of losses the modal pattern is decreasing risk and uncertainty aversion as the probability of loss increases, while increasing risk and uncertainty aversion is observed for gains. Moreover, it is found that the size of reaction to uncertainty does not depend on the outcome domain, and that it persists in the face of an incentive-compatible mechanism to elicit preferences.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: D. A. P. P. I. Università di Catania Via Vitt. Emanuele 8 I-95131 Catania Italy 2: Dipartimento di Economia Università di Torino Via Po 53 I-10124 Torino Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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