, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 159-199

Anxiety and Decision Making with Delayed Resolution of Uncertainty

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Abstract

In many real-world gambles, a non-trivial amount of time passes before the uncertainty is resolved but after a choice is made. An individual may have a preference between gambles with identical probability distributions over final outcomes if they differ in the timing of resolution of uncertainty. In this domain, utility consists not only of the consumption of outcomes, but also the psychological utility induced by an unresolved gamble. We term this utility anxiety. Since a reflective decision maker may want to include anxiety explicitly in analysis of unresolved lotteries, a multiple-outcome model for evaluating lotteries with delayed resolution of uncertainty is developed. The result is a rank-dependent utility representation (e.g., Quiggin, 1982), in which period weighting functions are related iteratively. Substitution rules are proposed for evaluating compound temporal lotteries. The representation is appealing for a number of reasons. First, probability weights can be interpreted as the cognitive attention allocated to certain outcomes. Second, the model disaggregates strength of preference from temporal risk aversion and thus provides some insight into the old debate about the relationship between von Neumann–Morgenstern utility functions and strength of preference value functions.