Identity and Choice Under Risk

70 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 21, 2020


Traditional gender norms have been blurring over the last years. Could this evolution have implications for economic decision-making? Identity theory posits that men who commit more to traditional male identity norms should take on more risk through a subjective-beliefs channel when their identity is salient, either because it is primed or threatened. I test these predictions using large-scale artefactual field experiments. Men whose identity is primed or threatened invest more in risky opportunities than control men and women. They become overconfident even in pure games of chance with no scope for skill, which is consistent with the subjective-beliefs channel identity theory postulates. The effects are stronger for men who commit more to male identity|older men and men in the Southern US. The recent blurring of traditional gender norms might thus imply a drop in aggregate risk taking over time, as men might reduce their willingness to take risks in disparate contexts.

Keywords: Cultural Economics, Subjective Beliefs, Oveconfidence, Norms, Stereotypes, Financial Decision-Making, Heterogeneous Agents.

JEL Classification: C91, C93, D03, D14, G02, J16, Z13

Suggested Citation

D'Acunto, Francesco, Identity and Choice Under Risk (January 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Francesco D'Acunto (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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