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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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Marschak and Utility Measurement at Yale

Marschak and Utility Measurement at Yale

The Age of Confidence II, 1960–1965

(p.239) chapter 14 Marschak and Utility Measurement at Yale
Measuring Utility

Ivan Moscati

Oxford University Press

Chapter 14 continues the history of the experimental attempts to measure utility by discussing two further experiments performed at Yale University in the early 1960s, one by Trenery Dolbear and the other by Jacob Marschak in association with Gordon Becker and Morris DeGroot. Like the experiments conducted in the 1950s, these were also based on expected utility theory (EUT) and aimed at measuring the utility of money of individuals on the basis of their preferences between gambles where small amounts of money were at stake. There are some differences in the designs of the experiments of the 1950s and those of the 1960s. Like the experimenters of the 1950s, however, Dolbear, Marschak, Becker, and DeGroot also confidently assessed their experimental findings as validating EUT: the theory was not 100 percent correct, but in an approximate sense, it appeared to be an acceptable descriptive theory of decision-making under risk.

Keywords:   measuring utility experimentally, Jacob Marschak, stochastic choice, Yale University, Trenery Dolbear, preference comparison, Gordon Becker, Morris DeGroot, confidence in EUT

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