Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Psychophysical Interpretation for Utility Measures

21 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2011  

Yuqing He

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2011


The paper explores utility measures by combining experiments with mathematical derivations in psychophysics paradigm. The analysis on ultimatum game experiment reveals an evidence for utility threshold and thus supports Bernoulli's utility logarithmic law. Both experimental results and theoretical derivations show that the logarithmic law is suitable for the description of commodity choice and the power law for risk choice. The further mathematical demonstration indicates the logarithmic law for utility scaling to be a Klein-Rubin utility function, a utility function well defined in microeconomics. Based on this, the experimental utility measure is connected with the econometric model Linear Expenditure System, and presents an experimental procedure for testing the utility maximization hypothesis, which will remove a long unsettled perplexity in a fundamental stone of economics since Gossen proposed it in 1854.

Keywords: Psychophysics, ultimatum game, utility function, logarithmic law, power law

JEL Classification: A12, D01

Suggested Citation

He, Yuqing, Psychophysical Interpretation for Utility Measures (2011). Economics Discussion Paper No. 2011-50. Available at SSRN: or

Yuqing He (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Paper statistics

Abstract Views