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Author Notes:

C. Monica Capra, Department of Economics and Center for Neuropolicy, Emory University, 1602 Fishburne Dr., Atlanta, GA 30322. mcapra@emory.edu.

We would like to thank participants at workshops and conferences where this work was presented.

Jan B. Engelmann is grateful for support from the NCCR Affective Sciences and the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.


Research Funding:

We acknowledge support from NIDA (R01 DA016434 and R01 DA025045 to Gregory S. Berns; and T32 DA15040 to Jan B. Engelmann).


  • choice under risk
  • personality
  • experiments
  • probability
  • weighting function

Can personality type explain heterogeneity in probability distortions?


Journal Title:

Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics


Volume 6, Number 3


, Pages 151-166

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


There are two regularities we have learned from experimental studies of choice under risk. The first is that the majority of people weigh objective probabilities nonlinearly. The second regularity, although less commonly acknowledged, is that there is a large amount of heterogeneity in how people distort probabilities. Despite this, little effort has been made to identify the source of heterogeneity. We explore the possibility that personality type is linked to probability distortions. Using validated psychological questionnaires, we clustered participants into distinct personality types: motivated, impulsive, and affective. We found that the motivated participants viewed gambling as more attractive, whereas the impulsive participants were the most capable of discriminating non-extreme probabilities. Our results suggest that the observed heterogeneity in probability distortions may be explained by personality profiles, which can be elicited though standard psychological questionnaires.

Copyright information:

© 2013 American Psychological Association.

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