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Measuring UtilityFrom the Marginal Revolution to Behavioral Economics$
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Ivan Moscati

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199372768

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199372768.001.0001

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Experimental Utility Measurement

Experimental Utility Measurement

The Age of Confidence I, 1950–1960

(p.217) chapter 13 Experimental Utility Measurement
Measuring Utility

Ivan Moscati

Oxford University Press

Chapter 13 discusses some laboratory experiments to measure the utility of money for individuals on the basis of their preferences between gambles where small amounts of money were at stake. The experiments were based on expected utility theory (EUT) and were conducted in the 1950s at Harvard and Stanford by three groups: statistician Frederick Mosteller and psychologist Philip Nogee (1951), philosophers Patrick Suppes and Donald Davidson with the collaboration of psychologist Sidney Siegel (1957), and Suppes and his student Karol Valpreda Walsh (1959). These scholars were confident about both EUT and the possibility of measuring utility through it. They designed their experiments so as to neutralize some psychological factors that could jeopardize the validity of EUT and spoil the significance of the experimental measurements of utility, and they concluded that their experimental findings supported both the experimental measurability of utility based on EUT and the descriptive validity of the theory.

Keywords:   measuring utility experimentally, testing EUT, Frederick Mosteller, Patrick Suppes, Donald Davidson, Sidney Siegel, objective probabilities, subjective probabilities, Stanford, Value Theory Project

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