When Things Don't Add Up: The Role of Perceived Fungibility in Repeated-Play Decisions

Date of Original Version



Working Paper

Abstract or Description

Previous research on repeated-play decisions has focused on choices with fungible outcomes. In two studies, we investigated the perceived fungibility of outcomes over repeated plays of risky prospects in a variety of situations, as well as the relationship between perceived fungibility and preferences for taking risks in those situations. Perceived fungibility varied substantially across participants and situations, with outcomes experienced by different people (e.g., medical outcomes for different patients) receiving lower scores. Higher perceived fungibility was associated with more favorable evaluations of repeated plays of risky prospects with positive expectations. Additionally, perceived fungibility moderated the effect of repetition, such that the increased attractiveness of repeated plays relative to a single play was diminished when perceived fungibility was low. Although evaluating the overall distribution of outcomes is arguably rational when monetary outcomes accrue to one person, treating each play as a separate event may be rational when aggregation is considered inappropriate.