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Correlation neglect in financial decision-making

Eyster, Erik and Weizsacker, Georg (2011) Correlation neglect in financial decision-making. Discussion Papers (1104). DIW, Berlin, Germany.

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Good decision-making often requires people to perceive and handle a myriad of statistical correlations. Notably, optimal portfolio theory depends upon a sophisticated understanding of the correlation among financial assets. In this paper, we examine people's understanding of correlation using a sequence of portfolio-allocation problems and find it to be strongly imperfect. Our experiment uses pairs of portfolio-choice problems that have the same asset span|identical sets of attainable returns|and differ only in the assets' correlation. While any outcome-based theory of choice makes the same prediction across paired problems, subjects behave very differently across pairs. We find evidence for correlation neglect|treating correlated variables as uncorrelated|as well as for a form of \1/n heuristic"|investing half of wealth each of the two available assets.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 DIW
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B4 - Economic Methodology > B49 - Other
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2012 11:26
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2021 01:15

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