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Risk Attitude in the DuLong Minority Ethnicity of China

Prospect theory predicts a four-fold risk attitude, which means that people are risk seeking for low-probability gain and high-probability loss and risk averse for low-probability loss and high-probability gain because they overweight probability when it is low. The four-fold pattern of risk attitude has been supported by several former studies with mainstream industrialized populations but has never previously been tested in a non-industrialized society. In this work, we examined the robustness of the four-fold risk attitude in the DuLong minority ethnicity in China, which is a small society with only 4,000 members that is isolated from modern civilization. We used simple lotteries for gain and loss with different probabilities to elicit the risk attitude of 37 DuLong villagers. Our results support prospect theory predictions in that DuLong people are risk seeking for low-probability gain and risk averse for low-probability loss. However, although they showed a tendency to decrease their degree of risk seeking (risk aversion) for gain (loss), their risk attitude did not reverse when the probability of the prospect increased to 50%. In summary, our results suggest a right-shifted weighting function in this non-industrialized small society. The deviation might be caused by the particular living situation of the DuLong people, their sensitivity to monetary payoffs, and the elicitation procedure.

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