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Is there a pessimistic bias in individual beliefs ? Evidence from survey data.

By Clotilde Napp, Elyès Jouini and Selima Ben Mansour

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to determine whether individuals exhibit a behavioral bias towards pessimism in their beliefs, in a lottery or more generally in an investment opportunities framework. For this purpose, we design a field survey on a sample of 1,540 individuals aiming at deriving a measure of pessimism from answers to hypothetical scenarios. In the context of our experiment, we observe that individuals are on average pessimistic. We analyze how pessimism is distributed among individuals, in particular in link with gender, age and income. We also analyze how our notion of pessimism is related to more general notions of pessimism already introduced in psychology. We finally estimate the possible impact of this pessimistic bias on the financial markets equilibrium risk premium.pessimism; lottery; judged probability;

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