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Measuring loss aversion under ambiguity: a method to make prospect theory completely observable

Abdellaoui, Mohammed; Bleichrodt, Han; l'Haridon, Olivier; van Dolder, Dennie


Mohammed Abdellaoui

Han Bleichrodt

Olivier l'Haridon

Dennie van Dolder


We propose a simple, parameter-free method that, for the first time, makes it possible to completely observe Tversky and Kahneman’s (1992) prospect theory. While methods exist to measure event weighting and the utility for gains and losses separately, there was no method to measure loss aversion under ambiguity. Our method allows this and thereby it can measure prospect theory’s entire utility function. Consequently, we can properly identify properties of utility and perform new tests of prospect theory. We implemented our method in an experiment and obtained support for prospect theory. Utility was concave for gains and convex for losses and there was substantial loss aversion. Both utility and loss aversion were the same for risk and ambiguity, as assumed by prospect theory, and sign-comonotonic trade-off consistency, the central condition of prospect theory, held.


Abdellaoui, M., Bleichrodt, H., l'Haridon, O., & van Dolder, D. (2016). Measuring loss aversion under ambiguity: a method to make prospect theory completely observable. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 52(1), 1-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 8, 2015
Online Publication Date Mar 19, 2016
Publication Date Feb 1, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2016
Publicly Available Date Apr 28, 2016
Journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty
Print ISSN 0895-5646
Electronic ISSN 1573-0476
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 1
Pages 1-20
Keywords Prospect theory ; Loss aversion ; Utility for gains and losses ; Risk ; Ambiguity ; Elicitation methods
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Additional Information The final publication is available at Springer via


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