IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Risk Presentation and Portfolio Choice


  • Hazel Bateman
  • Christine Eckert
  • John Geweke
  • Jordan Louviere
  • Stephen Satchell
  • Susan Thorp


Efficient investment of personal savings depends on clear risk disclosures. We study the propensity of individuals to violate some implications of expected utility under alternative "mass-market" descriptions of investment risk, using a discrete choice experiment. We found violations in around 25% of choices, and substantial variation in rates of violation, depending on the mode of risk disclosure and participants’ characteristics. When risk is described as the frequency of returns below or above a threshold we observe more violations than for range and probability-based descriptions. Innumerate individuals are more likely to violate expected utility than those with high numeracy. Apart from the very elderly, older individuals are less likely to violate the restrictions. The results highlight the challenges of disclosure regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Hazel Bateman & Christine Eckert & John Geweke & Jordan Louviere & Stephen Satchell & Susan Thorp, 2016. "Risk Presentation and Portfolio Choice," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(1), pages 201-229.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:20:y:2016:i:1:p:201-229.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Syngjoo Choi & Shachar Kariv & Wieland M?ller & Dan Silverman, 2014. "Who Is (More) Rational?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1518-1550, June.
    2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-1260, June.
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown & Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2007. "Individual Account Investment Options and Portfolio Choice: Behavioral Lessons from 401(k) Plans," NBER Chapters,in: Public Policy and Retirement, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 1992-2013 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Curto, Vilsa, 2012. "Financial sophistication in the older population," CFS Working Paper Series 2012/08, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    5. Bateman, Hazel & Eckert, Christine & Geweke, John & Louviere, Jordan & Satchell, Stephen & Thorp, Susan, 2014. "Financial competence, risk presentation and retirement portfolio preferences," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 27-61, January.
    6. Agarwal, Sumit & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Liu, Chunlin & Souleles, Nicholas S., 2005. "Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/32, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    7. Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Details Matter: The Impact of Presentation and Information on the Take-Up of Financial Incentives for Retirement Saving," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 204-228, February.
    8. John Y. Campbell & Howell E. Jackson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Consumer Financial Protection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 91-114, Winter.
    9. Kimball, Miles S & Sahm, Claudia R & Shapiro, Matthew D, 2008. "Imputing Risk Tolerance From Survey Responses," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(483), pages 1028-1038.
    10. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 5-44, March.
    11. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1991. "The consumption of stockholders and nonstockholders," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 97-112, March.
    12. Sumit Agarwal & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2013. "Cognitive Abilities and Household Financial Decision Making," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-207, January.
    13. Laibson, David I. & Agarwal, Sumit & Driscoll, John C. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life-Cycle with Implications for Regulation," Scholarly Articles 4554335, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    14. James Banks & Zoe Oldfield, 2007. "Understanding Pensions: Cognitive Function, Numerical Ability and Retirement Saving," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(2), pages 143-170, June.
    15. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 51-117.
    16. Angela A. Hung & Joanne Yoong, 2010. "Asking for Help: Survey And Experimental Evidence on Financial Advice And Behavior Change," Working Papers 714-1, RAND Corporation.
    17. Charles N. Noussair & Stefan T. Trautmann & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2014. "Higher Order Risk Attitudes, Demographics, and Financial Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 325-355.
    18. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1999. "Risk Aversion or Myopia? Choices in Repeated Gambles and Retirement Investments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(3), pages 364-381, March.
    19. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    20. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187.
    21. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
    22. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 167-195 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Gur Huberman & Wei Jiang, 2006. "Offering versus Choice in 401(k) Plans: Equity Exposure and Number of Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(2), pages 763-801, April.
    24. Christine Kaufmann & Martin Weber & Emily Haisley, 2013. "The Role of Experience Sampling and Graphical Displays on One's Investment Risk Appetite," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(2), pages 323-340, July.
    25. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    26. Haim Levy, 1991. "Note---The Mean-Coefficient-of-Variation Rule: The Lognormal Case," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(6), pages 745-747, June.
    27. Julie Agnew & Pierluigi Balduzzi & Annika Sundén, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Trading in a Large 401(k) Plan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 193-215, March.
    28. Elke U. Weber & Richard A. Milliman, 1997. "Perceived Risk Attitudes: Relating Risk Perception to Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(2), pages 123-144, February.
    29. Julie R. Agnew & Lisa R. Anderson & Jeffrey R. Gerlach & Lisa R. Szykman, 2008. "Who Chooses Annuities? An Experimental Investigation of the Role of Gender, Framing, and Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 418-422, May.
    30. Daniel G. Goldstein & Eric J. Johnson & William F. Sharpe, 2008. "Choosing Outcomes versus Choosing Products: Consumer-Focused Retirement Investment Advice," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 440-456, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:revfin:v:20:y:2016:i:1:p:201-229.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.