Do Institutional and Individual Investors Differ in Their Preference for Financial Skewness?
37 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 26, 2012
Employing a unique sample of individual and institutional investors, we conduct experiments to determine investors’ preference for (or indifference to) financial skewness. We present investors with a series of stocks with varying levels of skewness. Using Instant Response Devices, we then collect the investors’ choice to hold or sell each stock. Among stocks with equal expected returns, we find strong evidence that the sample investors use a prospect theory utility function rather than a mean-variance expected utility function to decide to sell or hold stocks. In the loss domain, we find that investors are ambivalent about the choice between positively and negatively skewed stocks. However, in the gain domain, we find that both individual and institutional investors prefer negatively skewed stocks – a contrast from previous research suggesting that individuals (and not institutional investors) prefer positive skewness. We also find evidence suggesting that reference points are important in financial decision-making.
Keywords: financial skewness, false reference points, prospect theory, lottery stocks
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