“(…) the determination of the value of an item must not be based on its price, but rather on the utility it yields. The price of the item is dependent only on the thing itself and is equal for everyone; the utility, however, is dependent on the particular circumstances of the person making the estimate”.
Daniel Bernoulli, 1738, in Specimen Theoriae Novae de Mensura Sortis
“On our view, one searches, often long and frustratingly, for the subtle forms that prices and incomes take in explaining differences among men and periods. (…) The establishment of the proposition that one may usefully treat tastes as stable over time and similar among people is the central task of this essay.”
George J. Stigler and Gary S. Becker, 1977, in De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
Daniel Bernoulli’s expected utility theory paved the way for important conceptions and measurements of utility and risk in Economics and Psychology. In turn, his notion of the importance of individual circumstances and characteristics has received less attention in these fields, with the currently prevailing view being to ignore differences “among men and periods.”
The Bernoulli Symposium on Risk took place in Basel, February 2-4, 2017, and gathered experts from Economics, Psychology, and related disciplines to discuss research aiming to understand Bernoulli’s proposal concerning the importance of individual variation in decisions under risk and uncertainty. In particular, the symposium allowed us to build bridges to research on impulsivity and self-control in the hope of making progress towards a new theory and measurement of risk preference that has full consideration for the issues of intra- and inter-individual differences.