An application of prospect theory to a SHM-based decision problem

Denise Bolognani, Andrea Verzobio, Daniel Tonelli, Carlo Cappello, Branko Glisic, Daniele Zonta

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

18 Scopus citations


Decision making investigates choices that have uncertain consequences and that cannot be completely predicted. Rational behavior may be described by the so-called expected utility theory (EUT), whose aim is to help choosing among several solutions to maximize the expectation of the consequences. However, Kahneman and Tversky developed an alternative model, called prospect theory (PT), showing that the basic axioms of EUT are violated in several instances. In respect of EUT, PT takes into account irrational behaviors and heuristic biases. It suggests an alternative approach, in which probabilities are replaced by decision weights, which are strictly related to the decision maker's preferences and may change for different individuals. In particular, people underestimate the utility of uncertain scenarios compared to outcomes obtained with certainty, and show inconsistent preferences when the same choice is presented in different forms. The goal of this paper is precisely to analyze a real case study involving a decision problem regarding the Streicker Bridge, a pedestrian bridge on Princeton University campus. By modelling the manager of the bridge with the EUT first, and with PT later, we want to verify the differences between the two approaches and to investigate how the two models are sensitive to unpacking probabilities, which represent a common cognitive bias in irrational behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHealth Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems 2017
EditorsTribikram Kundu
ISBN (Electronic)9781510608252
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventHealth Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems 2017 - Portland, United States
Duration: Mar 26 2017Mar 29 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherHealth Monitoring of Structural and Biological Systems 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Decision making
  • Expected utility theory
  • Heuristic biases
  • Non-expected utility models
  • Prospect theory


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