Deal or no deal? decision making under risk in a large-payoff game show

Thierry Post, Martijn J. Van Den Assem, Guido Baltussen, Richard H. Thaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the risky choices of contestants in the popular TV game show "Deal or No Deal" and related classroom experiments. Contrary to the traditional view of expected utility theory, the choices can be explained in large part by previous outcomes experienced during the game. Risk aversion decreases after earlier expectations have been shattered by unfavorable outcomes or surpassed by favorable outcomes. Our results point to reference-dependent choice theories such as prospect theory, and suggest that path-dependence is relevant, even when the choice problems are simple and well defined, and when large real monetary amounts are at stake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-71
Number of pages34
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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