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Disappointment in Decision Making under Uncertainty

David E. Bell
Operations Research
Vol. 33, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1985), pp. 1-27
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/170863
Page Count: 27
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Disappointment in Decision Making under Uncertainty
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Abstract

Decision analysis requires that two equally desirable consequences should have the same utility and vice versa. Most analyses of financial decision making presume that two consequences with the same dollar outcome will be equally preferred. However, winning the top prize of 10,000 in a lottery may leave one much happier than receiving 10,000 as the lowest prize in a lottery. This paper explores the implications of disappointment, a psychological reaction caused by comparing the actual outcome of a lottery to one's prior expectations, for decision making under uncertainty. Explicit recognition that decision makers may be paying a premium to avoid potential disappointment provides an interpretation for some known behavioral paradoxes, and suggests that decision makers may be sensitive to the manner in which a lottery is resolved. The concept of disappointment is integrated into utility theory in a prescriptive model.

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