The Affect Heuristic and the Attractiveness of Simple Gambles

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 20, pp. 365-380, 2007

Posted: 22 Jul 2010

See all articles by Ian J. Bateman

Ian J. Bateman

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies

Ellen Peters

Ohio State University - Psychology Department; Decision Research; University of Oregon

Paul Slovic

Decision Research; University of Oregon - Department of Psychology

Chris Starmer

University of Nottingham - School of Economics

Sam Dent

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Prior studies have observed that, in separate evaluation, the attractiveness of playing a simple gamble (7/36 to win $9; otherwise win nothing) is greatly enhanced by introducing a small loss (7/36 win $9; otherwise lose 5¢). The present studies tested and confirmed an explanation of this finding based on the concept of evaluability and the affect heuristic. Evaluators of the "no-loss" gamble lack a precise feeling for how good $9 is, hence give it little weight in their judgment. The unattractive probability (7/36) determines the response. In the second gamble, comparison with the small loss makes $9 "come alive with feeling" and become weighted in the judgment, increasing attractiveness of the gamble. These results demonstrate the importance of contextual factors in determining affect and preference for simple risk—taking opportunities. They show that the meaning, utility, and weighting of even a very familiar monetary outcome such as $9 is not fixed, but depends greatly on these contextual factors

Keywords: affect heuristic, preference construction, evaluability, gambles

Suggested Citation

Bateman, Ian Julian and Peters, Ellen and Slovic, Paul and Starmer, Chris and Dent, Sam, The Affect Heuristic and the Attractiveness of Simple Gambles (2007). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, Vol. 20, pp. 365-380, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=912596

Ian Julian Bateman (Contact Author)

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies ( email )

Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Ellen Peters

Ohio State University - Psychology Department ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon ( email )

1280 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

Paul Slovic

Decision Research ( email )

1201 Oak Street, Suite 200
Eugene, OR 97401
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)
541-485-2403 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.decisionresearch.org

University of Oregon - Department of Psychology ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-485-2400 (Phone)

Chris Starmer

University of Nottingham - School of Economics ( email )

University Park
Room B2, Economics & Geography Building
Nottingham NG7 2RD
United Kingdom
+44 (0)115 846 6067 (Phone)
+44 (0)115 951 4159 (Fax)

Sam Dent

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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