SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research No. 1118
Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW), Berlin
Previous work has shown that preferences are not always stable across time, but surprisingly little is known about the reasons for this instability. I examine whether variation in people's emotions over time predicts changes in risk attitudes. Using a large panel data set, I identify happiness, anger, and fear as significant correlates of within-person changes in risk attitudes. Robustness checks indicate a limited role of alternative explanations. An event study around the death of a parent or child further confirms a large relationship between emotions and risk attitudes.