2009-05: Estimating Ambinguity Aversion in a Portfolio Choice Experiment


We report a laboratory experiment that enables us to estimate parametric models of ambiguity aversion at the level of the individual subject. We use two main specifications, a “kinked” specification that nests Maxmin Expected Utility, Choquet Expected Utility, α-Maxmin Expected Utility, and Contraction Expected Utility and a “smooth” specification that nests the various theories referred to collectively as Recursive Expected Utility. Our subjects solved a series of portfolio-choice problems. The assets are Arrow securities corresponding to three states of nature, where the probability of one state is known and the remaining two are ambiguous. The sample exhibits considerable heterogeneity in preferences, as captured by parameter estimates. Nonetheless, there exists a strong tendency to equalize the demands for the securities that pay off in the ambiguous states, a feature more easily accommodated by the kinked specification than by the smooth specification. We also find that a large number of subjects are well described by the ambiguity-neutral Subjective Expected Utility model.

David Ahn
Syngjoo Choi
Douglas Gale
Shachar Kariv
Publication date: 
June 2, 2009
Publication type: 
2009 Working Papers