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In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By gopalakrishnan91
Words 21551
Pages 87
C H A P T E R

5

Uncertainty and
Consumer Behavior
CHAPTER OUTLINE
5.1 Describing Risk

S

o far, we have assumed that prices, incomes, and other variables are
known with certainty. However, many of the choices that people
make involve considerable uncertainty. Most people, for example,
borrow to finance large purchases, such as a house or a college education,
and plan to pay for them out of future income. But for most of us, future
incomes are uncertain. Our earnings can go up or down; we can be promoted or demoted, or even lose our jobs. And if we delay buying a house
or investing in a college education, we risk price increases that could make
such purchases less affordable. How should we take these uncertainties
into account when making major consumption or investment decisions?
Sometimes we must choose how much risk to bear. What, for example, should you do with your savings? Should you invest your money
in something safe, such as a savings account, or something riskier but
potentially more lucrative, such as the stock market? Another example
is the choice of a job or career. Is it better to work for a large, stable
company with job security but slim chance for advancement, or is it
better to join (or form) a new venture that offers less job security but
more opportunity for advancement?
To answer such questions, we must examine the ways that people
can compare and choose among risky alternatives. We will do this by
taking the following steps:
1. In order to compare the riskiness of alternative choices, we need
to quantify risk. We therefore begin this chapter by discussing
measures of risk.
2. We will examine people’s preferences toward risk. Most people
find risk undesirable, but some people find it more undesirable
than others.
3. We will see how people can sometimes reduce or eliminate risk.
Sometimes risk can be reduced by diversification, by…...

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