Scale Matters: Risk Perception, Return Expectations, and Investment Propensity Under Different Scalings

34 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2018 Last revised: 25 Nov 2018

See all articles by Christoph Huber

Christoph Huber

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Juergen Huber

University of Innsbruck

Date Written: August 24, 2018

Abstract

With a novel experimental design we investigate whether risk perception, return expectations, and investment propensity are influenced by the scale of the vertical axis in charts. We explore this for two presentation formats, namely return charts and price charts, where we depict low- and high-volatility assets with distinct trends. We find that varying the scale strongly affects people's risk perception, as a narrower scale of the vertical axis leads to significantly higher perceived riskiness of an asset even if the underlying volatility is the same. Furthermore, past returns predict future return expectations almost perfectly. In our setting perceived profitability was considered more important than perceived riskiness when making investment choices. Overall we show that adapting the scale of a chart makes it easier to recognize yearly return variations within a single security, but at the same time makes it harder to identify differences between dissimilar securities. This is something regulators should be aware of and take into account in the rules they set.

Keywords: Behavioral Finance, Judgment, Risk Perception, Scaling, Presentation Format

JEL Classification: D14, D18, G11, G41

Suggested Citation

Huber, Christoph and Huber, Juergen, Scale Matters: Risk Perception, Return Expectations, and Investment Propensity Under Different Scalings (August 24, 2018). Experimental Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3241321 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3241321

Christoph Huber (Contact Author)

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1, Building D1, 3rd Floor
Vienna, 1020
Austria

Juergen Huber

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universitätsstraße 15
Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020
Austria

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