A Behavioral Interpretation of Belief Functions

Timber Kerkvliet, Ronald Meester*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Shafer’s belief functions were introduced in the seventies of the previous century as a mathematical tool in order to model epistemic probability. One of the reasons that they were not picked up by mainstream probability was the lack of a behavioral interpretation. In this paper, we provide such a behavioral interpretation and re-derive Shafer’s belief functions via a betting interpretation reminiscent of the classical Dutch Book Theorem for probability distributions. We relate our betting interpretation of belief functions to the existing literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2112-2128
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Theoretical Probability
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Axioms of probability
  • Behavioral interpretation
  • Belief functions
  • Dutch Book
  • Epistemic probability
  • Gamble
  • Guaranteed revenue
  • Lower prevision


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