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A Stochastic Expected Utility Theory

Pavlo R. Blavatskyy

No 231, IEW - Working Papers from Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich

Abstract: This paper proposes a new model that explains the violations of expected utility theory through the role of random errors. The paper analyzes decision making under risk when individuals make random errors when they compute expected utilities. Errors are drawn from the normal distribution, which is truncated so that the stochastic utility of a lottery cannot be greater (lower) than the utility of the highest (lowest) possible outcome. The standard deviation of random errors is higher for lotteries with a wider range of possible outcomes. It converges to zero for lotteries converging to a degenerate lottery. The model explains all major stylized empirical facts such as the Allais paradox and the fourfold pattern of risk attitudes. The model fits the data from ten well-known experimental studies at least as good as cumulative prospect theory.

Keywords: decision theory; stochastic utility; expected utility theory; cumulative prospect theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D81 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo and nep-fin
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