Does the Influence of Stress on Financial Risk Taking Depend on the Riskiness of the Decision?

Abstract

Many decisions under risk and uncertainty are made under physical or emotional stress. Recent research suggests that stress influences decisions between risky options, but that the direction of the influence depends on the characteristics of the gambles. For instance, stress increases risk taking for loss gambles, but decreases risk taking for gain gambles. In the current project we investigate: (1) whether the riskiness of gambles influences the direction of the stress effect and (2) whether changes in risk taking can be linked to changes in attention. Participants who gave relatively more attention to gains than to losses, as indicated by eye- tracking data, were more risk seeking than participants who gave less attention to gains. Stress did not influence participants’ attention. However, stressed participants became more risk seeking when considering gambles with relatively low risk, but less risk seeking for gambles with relatively high risk.


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