Risk Preference and Aspiration Level

Lola L. Lopes
Sandra L. Schneider


Subjects' preferences among a set of six multi-outcome lotteries were measured under three conditions. In the neutral condition, no payoffs were applied. In the low aspiration condition, all subjects who 'won' an average of $80 or more on a set of three of their preferred lotteries won $2. In the high aspiration ,the two subjects 'winning' the largeest amounts on a set of three of their perferred lotteries won prizes of $15 and $5. Of 89 Ss, slightly more than half were highly responsive to the aspiration manipulation becoming more risk averse (relative to the neutral condition) under the low aspiration condition and becoming risk seeking under the high aspiration condition. The remaining subjects were totally unresponsive to the manipulation. These results are discussed in terms of Lopes' (in press) two-factor theory of risky choice.