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Lang, Matthias (April 2017): First-Order and Second-Order Ambiguity Aversion. In: Management Science, Vol. 63, No. 4: pp. 1254-1269
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Abstract

Different models of uncertainty aversion imply strikingly different economic behavior. The key to understanding these differences lies in the dichotomy between first-order and second-order ambiguity aversion, which I define here. My definition and its characterization are independent of specific representations of decisions under uncertainty. I show that with second-order ambiguity aversion, a positive exposure to ambiguity is optimal if and only if there is a subjective belief such that the act’s expected outcome is positive. With first-order ambiguity aversion, zero exposure to ambiguity can be optimal. Examples in finance, insurance, and contracting demonstrate the economic relevance of this dichotomy.