, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 235-263

Prospective reference theory: Toward an explanation of the paradoxes

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

This article develops a variant of the expected utility model termed prospective reference theory. Although the standard model occurs as a limiting case, the general approach is that individuals treat stated experimental probabilities as imperfect information. This model is applied to a wide variety of aberrant phenomena, including the Allais paradox, the overweighting of low-probability events, the existence of premiums for certain elimination of risks, and the representativeness heuristic. The prospective reference theory model predicts most of the observed behavioral patterns rather than being potentially reconcilable with such phenomena.

Kenneth Arrow and Robert Viscusi provided helpful comments. A preliminary version of this article was presented at the 1987 AEA meetings.