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On the priming of risk preferences: the role of fear and general affect

Alempaki, Despoina; Starmer, Chris; Tufano, Fabio


Despoina Alempaki

Professor of Experimental Economics


Priming is an established tool in psychology for investigating aspects of cognitive processes underlying decision making and is increasingly applied in economics. We report a systematic attempt to test the reproducibility and generalisability of priming effects on risk attitudes in a more diverse population than professionals and students, when priming using either a positive or a negative experience. We further test fear as the causal mechanism underlying countercyclical risk aversion. Across a series of experiments with a total sample of over 1900 participants, we are unable to find any systematic effect of priming on risk preferences. Moreover, our results challenge the role of fear as the mechanism underlying countercyclical risk aversion; we find evidence of an impact of general affect such that the better our participants feel, the more risk they take.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 4, 2019
Journal Journal of Economic Psychology
Print ISSN 0167-4870
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Alempaki, D., Starmer, C., & Tufano, F. (2019). On the priming of risk preferences: the role of fear and general affect. Journal of Economic Psychology,
Keywords Priming; Risk preferences; Replication; Emotions; Experiment
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