Estimating ambiguity aversion in a portfolio choice experiment

David Ahn, Syngjoo Choi, Douglas Gale, Shachar Kariv

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We report a portfolio-choice experiment that enables us to estimate parametric models of ambiguity aversion at the level of the individual subject. The assets are Arrow securities that correspond to three states of nature, where one state is risky with known probability and two states are ambiguous with unknown probabilities. We estimate two specifications of ambiguity aversion, one kinked and one smooth, that encompass many of the theoretical models in the literature. Each specification includes two parameters: one for ambiguity attitudes and another for risk attitudes. We also estimate a three-parameter specification that includes an additional parameter for pessimism/optimism (underweighting/overweighting the probabilities of different payoffs). The parameter estimates for individual subjects exhibit considerable heterogeneity. We cannot reject the null hypothesis of subjective expected utility for a majority of subjects. Most of the remaining subjects exhibit statistically significant ambiguity aversion or seeking and/or pessimism or optimism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)195-223
    Number of pages29
    JournalQuantitative Economics
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jul 2014


    • Ambiguity aversion
    • Choquet expected utility
    • Contraction expected utility
    • Experiment
    • Maxmin expected utility
    • Pessimism/optimism
    • Rank-dependent utility
    • Recursive expected utility
    • Recursive nonexpected utility
    • Risk aversion
    • Subjective expected utility
    • Uncertainty
    • α-maxmin expected utility

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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