Working paper

Risk Taking with Left- and Right-Skewed Lotteries

Douadia Bougherara, Lana Friesen, and Céline Nauges


While much literature has focused on preferences regarding risk, preferences over skewness also have significant economic implications. An important and understudied aspect of skewness preferences is how they affect risk taking. In this paper, we design a novel laboratory experiment that elicits certainty equivalents over lotteries where the variance and skewness of the outcomes are orthogonal to each other. This design enables us to cleanly measure both skewness seeking/avoiding and risk taking behavior, and their interaction, without needing to make parametric assumptions. Our experiment includes both left- and right-skewed lotteries. The results reveal that the majority of subjects are skewness avoiding risk takers who correspondingly also take more risk when facing less skewed lotteries. Our second contribution is to link these choices to individual rank-dependent utility preference parameters estimated using a separate lottery choice protocol. Using a latent-class model, we are able to identify two classes of subjects: skewness avoiders with the classic inverse s-shaped probability weighting function and skewness neutral subjects that do not distort probabilities. Our results thus demonstrate the link between probability distortion and skewness seeking/avoidance choices. They also highlight the importance of accounting for individual heterogeneity.


Risk; Skewness; Laboratory Experiment; Probability Weighting;


Douadia Bougherara, Lana Friesen, and Céline Nauges, Risk Taking with Left- and Right-Skewed Lotteries, TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1085, April 2020.

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TSE Working Paper, n. 20-1085, April 2020