, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 35-51

Framing, probability distortions, and insurance decisions

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Abstract

A series of studies examines whether certain biases in probability assessments and perceptions of loss, previously found in experimental studies, affect consumers' decisions about insurance. Framing manipulations lead the consumers studied here to make hypothetical insurance-purchase choices that violate basic laws of probability and value. Subjects exhibit distortions in their perception of risk and framing effects in evaluating premiums and benefits. Illustrations from insurance markets suggest that the same effects occur when consumers make actual insurance purchases.

Presented at the Conference onMaking Decisions about Liability and Insurance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 6–7 December, 1991. This research is supported by National Science Foundation Grant SES88-09299. The authors thank Jon Baron, Colin Camerer, Neil Doherty, Paul Kleindorfer, Amos Tversky, and two anonymous referees for many helpful comments. We particularly acknowledge the efforts of Matthew Robinson and Penny Pollister for their help with data analysis.