A theory of perceived risk and attractiveness

Elke U. Weber, Carolyn J. Anderson, Michael H. Birnbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


People judged both the attractiveness and risk of lotteries to win or lose money. The lotteries were designed to test whether risk and attractiveness judgments show systematic deviations from the simple sum of probability-by-utility-products analogous to (S)EU theory. Our results led to an alternative combination rule for probability and outcome information, with a relative weight averaging component and a configural (i.e., sign- or rank-dependent) probability weighting component. Ratings of risk and attractiveness were negatively correlated, but the two tasks showed systematic differences in the rank order of judgments. Both judgments could be fit by the same configural relative weight averaging model, but with different parameters (especially the sign-dependent probability weighting functions). Risk judgments were more sensitive to the probability of losses and zero outcomes compared to attractiveness judgments, which were more sensitive to the probability of gains. There were individual differences on the extent of this difference in probability weights between risk and attractiveness judgments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-523
Number of pages32
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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