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Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction?

Author

Listed:
  • Ola Andersson

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Håkan J. Holm

    (Lund University - Department of Economics)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

    (Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), University of Vienna, Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

  • Erik Wengström

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

Abstract

Recent experimental studies suggest that risk aversion is negatively related to cognitive ability. In this paper we report evidence that this relation might be spurious. We recruit a large subject pool drawn from the general Danish population for our experiment. By presenting subjects with choice tasks that vary the bias induced by random choices, we are able to generate both negative and positive correlations between risk aversion and cognitive ability. Structural estimation allowing for heterogeneity of noise yields no significant relation between risk aversion and cognitive ability. Our results suggest that cognitive ability is related to random decision making rather than to risk preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2013. "Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1310
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ola Andersson & Håkan J. Holm & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2016. "Deciding for Others Reduces Loss Aversion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(1), pages 29-36, January.
    2. Jan-Erik Lönnqvist & Markku Verkasalo & Gari Walkowitz & Philipp C. Wichardt, 2011. "Measuring Individual Risk Attitudes in the Lab: Task or Ask?: An Empirical Comparison," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 370, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive load and strategic sophistication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 162-178.
    4. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Praveen Kujal & Balint Lenkei, 2015. "Cognitive Reflection Test: Whom, how, when," Working Papers 15-25, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3138-3160, November.
    6. Cueva, Carlos & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñigo & Mata-Pérez, Esther & Ponti, Giovanni & Sartarelli, Marcello & Yu, Haihan & Zhukova, Vita, 2016. "Cognitive (ir)reflection: New experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 81-93.
    7. Öhman, Mattias, 2015. "Be smart, live long: the relationship between cognitive and non-cognitive abilities and mortality," Working Paper Series 2015:21, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    8. Andersson, Ola & Holm, Håkan J. & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Wengström, Erik, 2013. "Risking Other People’s Money: Experimental Evidence on Bonus Schemes, Competition, and Altruism," Working Paper Series 989, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    9. Adam Eric Greenberg, 2013. "When imagining future wealth influences risky decision making," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(3), pages 268-277, May.
    10. Menkhoff, Lukas & Sakha, Sahra, 2014. "Multiple-item risk measures," Kiel Working Papers 1980, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    11. Vieider, Ferdinand M. & Truong, Nghi & Martinsson, Peter & Pham Khanh Nam & Martinsson, Peter, 2013. "Risk preferences and development revisited: A field experiment in Vietnam," Discussion Papers, WZB Junior Research Group Risk and Development SP II 2013-403, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    12. Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Verkasalo, Markku & Walkowitz, Gari & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2014. "Measuring individual risk attitudes in the lab: Task or ask? An empirical comparison," Kiel Working Papers 1905, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    13. Kiss, H.J. & Rodriguez-Lara, I. & Rosa-García, A., 2016. "Think twice before running! Bank runs and cognitive abilities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 12-19.
    14. Deck, Cary & Jahedi, Salar, 2015. "The effect of cognitive load on economic decision making: A survey and new experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 97-119.
    15. Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Verkasalo, Markku & Walkowitz, Gari & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2015. "Measuring individual risk attitudes in the lab: Task or ask? An empirical comparison," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 254-266.
    16. Andersson, Ola & Holm, Håkan J. & Tyran, Jean-Robert & Wengström, Erik, 2013. "Risking Other People’s Money," CEPR Discussion Papers 9743, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    risk preference; cognitive ability; experiment; noise;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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