Measuring Risk Aversion to Guide Transportation Policy: Contexts, Incentives, and Respondents

Vinayak K. Dixit, Rami C. Harb, Jimmy Martínez-Correa, E. Elisabet Rutström

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Road pricing may provide a solution to increasing traffic congestion in metropolitan areas. Route, departure time and travel mode choices depend on risk attitudes as commuters perceive the options as having uncertain effects on travel times. We propose that Experimental Economics methods can deliver data that uses real consequences and where the context can be varied by the researcher. The approach relies on the controlled manipulation of contexts, similar to what is done in the Stated Choice approach, but builds in actual consequences, similar to the Revealed Preference approach. This paper investigates some of the trade-offs between the cost of conducting Experimental Economics studies and the behavioral responses elicited. In particular, we compare responses to traditional lottery choice tasks to the route choice tasks in simulated driving environments. We also compare students (a low cost convenient participant pool) to field participants recruited from the driving population. While we see initial differences across our treatment groups, we find that their risk taking behavior converge with minimal repetition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransportation Research. Part A: Policy & Practice
Issue numberOctober
Pages (from-to)15-34
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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