February 2012

IZA DP No. 6400: Salience, Risky Choices and Gender

published in: Economics Letters, 2012, 117 (2), 517 - 520

Risk theories typically assume individuals make risky choices using probability weights that differ from objective probabilities. Recent theories suggest that probability weights vary depending on which portion of a risky environment is made salient. Using experimental data we show that salience affects young men and women differently, even after controlling for cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Men are significantly more likely than women to switch from a certain to a risky choice once the upside of winning is made salient, even though the expected value of the choice remains the same.