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Risky Business: New Study Explores Role of Gender, Testosterone in Financial Risk Aversion
Date:8/24/2009

hat evaluated their risk aversion attitudes. They answered a series of questions that asked them to choose between accepting a guaranteed monetary award or choosing a risky lottery with a higher potential payout. Students had to choose repeatedly between the lottery and a fixed payment at increasing values. Two saliva samples were collected, once before the session and once after the test was completed, to measure hormonal changes over that time period.

As expected, more risk-prone participants chose the lottery more often, whereas more risk-averse individuals preferred the guaranteed payout. Overall, men exhibited significantly lower risk aversion than women in the study, and also had significantly higher levels of salivary testosterone than women.

"This study has significant implications for how the effects of testosterone could impact actual risk-taking in financial markets, because many of these students will go on to become major players in the financial world," said Zingales. "Furthermore, it could shed some light on gender differences in career choices. Future studies should further explore the mechanisms through which testosterone affects the brain."

MORE INFORMATION: To see the full study or to arrange an interview with the researchers, contact Meg Washburn or William Harms at the contact information listed below. For more information about the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, visit www.kellogg.northwestern.edu. To learn more about the University of Chicago, visit www.uchicago.edu.

    MEDIA CONTACTS:
    Meg Washburn                         William Harms
    Kellogg School of Management         The University of Chicago
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SOURCE Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
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