Attitude toward imprecise information

Gajdos, T., Hayashi, T., Tallon, J.-M. and Vergnaud, J.-C. (2008) Attitude toward imprecise information. Journal of Economic Theory, 140(1), pp. 27-65. (doi:10.1016/j.jet.2007.09.002)

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This paper presents an axiomatic model of decision making under uncertainty which incorporates objective but imprecise information. Information is assumed to take the form of a probability–possibility set, that is, a set P of probability measures on the state space. The decision maker is told that the true probability law lies in P and is assumed to rank pairs of the form (P,f) where f is an act mapping states into outcomes. The key representation result delivers maxmin expected utility (MEU) where the min operator ranges over a set of probability priors—just as in the MEU representation result of Gilboa and Schmeidler [Maxmin expected utility with a non-unique prior, J. Math. Econ. 18 (1989) 141–153]. However, unlike the MEU representation, the representation here also delivers a mapping, ϕ, which links the probability–possibility set, describing the available information, to the set of revealed priors. The mapping ϕ is shown to represent the decision maker's attitude to imprecise information: under our axioms, the set of representation priors is constituted as a selection from the probability–possibility set. This allows both expected utility when the selected set is a singleton and extreme pessimism when the selected set is the same as the probability–possibility set, i.e., ϕ is the identity mapping. We define a notion of comparative imprecision aversion and show it is characterized by inclusion of the sets of revealed probability distributions, irrespective of the utility functions that capture risk attitude. We also identify an explicit attitude toward imprecision that underlies usual hedging axioms. Finally, we characterize, under extra axioms, a more specific functional form, in which the set of selected probability distributions is obtained by (i) solving for the “mean value” of the probability–possibility set, and (ii) shrinking the probability–possibility set toward the mean value to a degree determined by preferences.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hayashi, Professor Takashi
Authors: Gajdos, T., Hayashi, T., Tallon, J.-M., and Vergnaud, J.-C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Journal Name:Journal of Economic Theory
Published Online:06 October 2007

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