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Cognitive ability and risk aversion: A systematic review and meta analysis

Lau Lilleholt

Judgment and Decision Making, 2019, vol. 14, issue 3, 234-279

Abstract: Are highly intelligent people less risk averse? Over the last two decades scholars have argued the existence of a negative relationship between cognitive ability and risk aversion. Although numerous studies support this, the link between cognitive ability and risk aversion has not been found consistently. To shed new light on this topic, a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. A total of 97 studies were identified and included for meta-analysis in the domain of gains (N=90,723), 41 in the mixed domain (N=50,936), and 12 in the domain of losses (N=4,544). Results indicate that there exists a weak, but significant negative relationship between cognitive ability and risk aversion in the domain of gains. However, no relationship was observed in the Several meta-regressions were performed to investigate the influence of moderator variables. None of the moderator variables were found to consistently influence the relationship between cognitive ability and risk aversion across the domain of gains, mixed and losses. Moreover, no significant difference was observed between males and females across all three domains. In conclusion, this systematic review and meta-analysis provides new evidence that the relationship between cognitive ability and risk aversion is domain specific and not as strong as suggested by some previous studies.

Keywords: risk aversion; cognitive ability; risk preferences; intelligence; meta-analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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