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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

Fabio Tufano


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.


Alempaki, D., Starmer, C., & Tufano, F. (2019). On the priming of risk preferences: the role of fear and general affect. Journal of Economic Psychology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 30, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 4, 2019
Publication Date Jan 4, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2020
Journal Journal of Economic Psychology
Print ISSN 0167-4870
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Priming; Risk preferences; Replication; Emotions; Experiment
Public URL
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