Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 201–216 | Cite as

The sensitivity of subjective probability to time and elicitation method

  • Graham LoomesEmail author
  • Judith Mehta


The paper reports the results of a survey designed to elicit probability judgements for different types of events: ‘pure chance’ events, for which objective probabilities can be calculated; ‘public’ events, about which there may be some discussion in social groups and the media; and ‘personal’ events, such as those relating to crime or accidental injury. Even among respondents deemed to be ‘well-calibrated’ in the domain of pure chance events we find limited sensitivity to the ‘temporal scope’ of public and personal events—this being especially marked for personal events. We discuss possible reasons and some implications for policy-related survey work.


Subjective probability Elicitation methods Survey methods Scope sensitivity 

JEL Classification

C42 C81 D84 



This study was undertaken as part of the ‘Social Contexts and Responses to Risk’ (SCARR) network, funded by Economic and Social Research Council Grant L326 25 3054. We thank the editorial team and an anonymous referee, as well as participants at various conferences and seminars, for their constructive comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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