Schmalenbach Business Review

, Volume 17, Issue 3–4, pp 309–335 | Cite as

Do Affective States Influence Risk Preferences?

Evidence from Incentive-Compatible Experiments
  • Theresa Treffers
  • Philipp D. Koellinger
  • Arnold Picot
Original Article


Recent discussions in decision sciences and economics stress the potential impact of affect on decision outcomes. In this study, we conducted incentive-compatible laboratory experiments (N = 253) to investigate whether affect causes temporary fluctuations in risk preferences. In particular, we employed film clips to induce participants into joyful, fearful and sad affective states and subsequently elicited risk preferences by asking the participants to make choices among different lotteries. The financial consequences of the lottery choices varied randomly among the fixed-, low-, and high-stakes treatment groups. We find only weak evidence that affective states influence risk preferences. In particular, we find some evidence that sadness leads to risk aversion, but we find no effects for joy and fear. Our findings question recent claims in the literature that the relationship between affect and risk preferences is strong and unambiguous.


Affect Risk preferences Incentive-compatible Laboratory experiments Financial stakes 


D03 D81 C91 


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Copyright information

© Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft für Betriebswirtschaft e.V. (SG) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa Treffers
    • 1
  • Philipp D. Koellinger
    • 2
    • 3
  • Arnold Picot
    • 4
  1. 1.Private University Seeburg CastleSeekirchen am WallerseeAustria
  2. 2.Department of Complex Trait GeneticsFree University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Behavior and Biology (EURIBEB)Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Research Center for Information, Organisation and Management, Munich School of ManagementLudwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunichGermany

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