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Reflections on gains and losses: A 2x2x7 experiment
Bosch-Domènech, Antoni; Silvestre, Joaquim
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
We test whether risk attitudes change when losses instead of gains areinvolved. The study of gain-loss asymmetries has been largely confinedto reflected choices, where all the money amounts of a positiveprospect are multiplied by minus one. We define the decomposition reflection = translation + probability switch, and experimentally findboth a translation effect (risk attraction becomes more frequent whengains are translated into losses) and a probability switch effect (riskattraction becomes more frequent when the probability of the best outcomedecreases). Surprisingly, the switch effect is somewhat stronger than thetranslation effect, negating a conventional reflection effect when onestarts with choices between gains with a low probability of the bestoutcome. We conclude by arguing that, while both the translation effectand the switch effect contradict the expected utility hypothesis, thetranslation effect implies a deeper violation of standard preference theory.
Behavioral and Experimental Economics
reflection effect
risk attraction
risk aversion
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