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Tail events, emotions and risk taking

  • Corgnet, Brice
  • Cornand, Camille
  • Hanaki, Nobuyuki
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
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Recent works have shown how tail events could account for financial anomalies such as the equity premiumpuzzle. These models do not explore, however, why investors would discount tail risk so heavily. We take on this challenge by designing a novel tail-event experiment to assess both investors' behavioral and physiological reactions. We show that investors who observe the tail event without suffering losses tend to decrease their pricing of the asset subsequently. By contrast, loss-averse investors who suffer tail losses tend to increase their bids. This response is especially pronounced for those who exhibit a strong emotional response to tail losses. This demonstrates the key role played by emotions in influencing investors' response to tail events. Finally, investors who exhibit high anticipatory arousal, as measured with electrodermal activity, posted lower bids and were less likely to suffer tail losses and go bankrupt. They also achieved higher earnings when tail events occurred frequently. This finding contrasts with the common view that investors should silence their emotions.

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