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How to Measure Risk Attitude of Investors


An individual’s attitude towards risk might be associated with endogenous variations for many motives. First, possession of financial assets infers hostility with risky verdicts new to the person. Second, creating risky decisions denotes ambiguity and might contribute to learning in a group framework. In regards to portfolio selection, this may encompass the accumulation of finance-oriented human capital as well as increasing sureness in their skills. Third, modifications in readiness to assume risks in financial related transactions could be motivated by transformations in the discernments of the risky preferences and results that persons encountered during previous financial market involvement. In a real scenario, one’s investment choice does not continuously rely on lucid thoughts, but can occasionally be illogical (Ainia & Lutfi, 2019, p. 401). Therefore, people should also not eliminate that asset holding singularly impacts attitude towards risk.

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Various studies about the connections between investment and risk attitudes are anchored in common sense and spontaneous observations of behavioral variances between risk-seeking persons and risk-averse. In such a scenario, there is a need to substantiate the nature of the behavior between risk attitude and investment. When faced with an investment resolution, all investors encounter tradeoffs between risks and return (Ainia & Lutfi, 2019, p. 402). Hence, a financier’s view on risk can impact his venture decisions. Market commentators regularly cite fluctuations in investors’ toward threat as a probable elucidation for swings in asset values. Therefore, instances of financial turmoil correspond to anecdotal evidentiary materials of abrupt changes in market sentiments from risk tolerance to avoidance. While these moves might drive by the deviations in the basic disposition of specific investors’ approach towards risk, they appear more persuaded to reflect effective threat perceptions manifested by current investors’ conduct. Specifically, attitudes identical to that encouraged by swipes in the fundamental penchants of investors over return and risk can also mirror variations in the structure of lively market players or even tactical trading trends.

Tools for tracking the vibrant investor’s attitude to assume risk can result in an enhanced comprehension of the working of financial markets. Explicitly, they play not only in realizing effective risk management from an individual perspective, but also in the enhanced evaluation of bazaar circumstances by the policymakers. The drivers of risk attitudes are understood in various ways. For instance, by comparing the statistical probabilities of future investment returns in historical trends of spot prices with the analysis of similar prospects filtered through market contributors’ effective risk choices derived from decision values. Moreover, it is arguable that the comparative scope of downside threat, as analyzed from the arithmetical vantage and preference-weighted points, moves together with the existing operative attitude of market contributors towards risk. A brash investor can undervalue risk, resulting in sub-optimal decisions (Ainia & Lutfi, 2019, p. 402). It has been established that drivers of risk attitudes sourced from diverse equity markets contain substantial joint components, signifying that investors’ perceptions can surpass national borders.

Definition of Attitude towards Risk

The notion of risk is largely a modern issue as it carried less connotation. People face numerous risks in the course of their lifespan (Emilien, Weitkunat, & Lüdicke, 2017, p. 23). In medieval and ancient societies, the concept of risk management could never have appeared since fortune was predominantly linked to the act of God, fate, or luck. Over time, it has become apparent that the idea of risk is currently central to the societal discourse. First coined by Portuguese explorers who labeled uncharted zones of the sea as being ‘risky,’ the term has progressed from carrying a spatial implication to having a present temporal connotation whereby it recounts to future occurrences.

Attitude towards risk can be described as the selected state of mind regarding those reservations that could create negative or positive impacts on the core objectives. Attitude towards risk is generally executed subliminally and without careful authentication, but like any other feeling, risk outlooks are a preference for a group or an individual. Investors need to launch consistent criteria for assessing and reacting to risk across the businesses. Explicitly, the risk version remains a leading pillar within the models employed by economists (Díaz & Esparcia, 2019, p. 1). A challenge with risk is that individuals logically have idiosyncratic attitudes towards it, which tend to vary with circumstance.

Different types of attitudes towards risk exist and include risk aversion, risk-seeking, and risk-neutral. First, risk aversion is the kind of attitude where an investor is inclined towards certain rather than uncertain occurrences. Risk penchants rely on various determinants, but to make their execution simpler, the established literature recapitulates them in a widely acceptable manner (Díaz & Esparcia, 2019, p. 1). Typically, most people tend to depict this kind of risk approach. Managers need to appreciate that performing institutions regularly score highly when they become belligerent. Nonetheless, certain situations allow payment of fines to elude threat. In many scenarios, project managers tend not to be risk-averse due to the possibility of intentional forfeiture of viable chances. Consequently, their risk-aversion trend can create a better prospect of enhanced gains. Second, risk-taking is the kind of conduct or attitude in which an individual inclines more towards uncertain events than certain activities. An investor can manifest a risk-seeking demeanor when preparing to settle a fine for them to incur a possibility. Predominantly, the rich can be described to be risk-averse while the poor are more risk-seeking.

Another dominantly depicted threat behavior is risk-neutral exhibited in people who possess an indifferent feeling towards possibility. The persons frequently parade the oddity, especially when choices are anchored wholly in anticipated fiscal price. It is significant for a project manager tasked with handling risks to read the kind of attitude since exhibited feeling might reflect a role of alleged affluence of the task. The program manager will depict risk-seeking behavior when the apportioned financial plan is sufficient. However, they could be risk-averse if the budget is insufficient. The investor preference model examines the attitude of persons when challenged with making venture choices (Díaz & Esparcia, 2019, p. 1). Therefore, investors should remain watchful of the robust influence of risk behaviors on selections. Moreover, a risk-averse investor massively stresses the ramifications of the adverse incident while those risk-seeking ones emphasize the possibility of a lost prospect. Two possibilities of dealing with risk have largely been discussed which encompass; transferring and controlling risk. Nonetheless, from the beginning, it is notable that risk can be avoided or accepted.

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How is Risk Attitude Measured?

Measuring risk attitude reliably and validly is an essential aspect of prosperous financial advisory in the realms of customer satisfaction. It is increasingly becoming vital for investment advisors and economic planners. The commonly used measures of risk attitude are questionnaires, which are extensively accepted by practitioners, supervisors, and scientists (Metzger & Fehr, 2018, p. 1). The supposition is that responses of the investor proxy the person’s risk attitude. Events of risk attitude have embraced regulatory criteria to meet the suitability needs.

Measuring risk attitude through the scientific perspective has drawn considerable amounts of research yet there exists substantial disagreements on the extent of possibility an investor is willing to assume. Popular scientific methods of gauging risk attitude encompass questionnaires, choice experiments, or investigations using risk relating tasks. Furthermore, indirect attitude measures comprising the Implicit Association Test are progressively being incorporated since they permit analyzing embedded cognitions, which are pertinent to the framework of sound decision making. Modern investment theories regard the market to be effective while investors remain rational (Zahera & Bansal, 2018, p. 211). While the use of questionnaires in calculating risk attitudes has been widely accepted in financial advisory due to their simplicity in practical applications, they also carry some limitations.

First, individuals need to openly pronounce their preparedness to start risk. The core motive is easily identified by the investors, making replies to be prone to intentional control. The scenario implies when persons are not motivated to say the truth or just attempt to amaze their interlocutor. It is sensible for various investors to make diverse risky investment portfolios (Institute Research Foundation, 2018, p. 11). Second, responding to attitude interrogations needs some ability for individualized reflection and observation. Not everybody fulfills this need to the same extent as required. Therefore, the use of questionnaires to quantify risk attitudes from a scientific perspective needs to ensure domain specificity, validity, and reliability.

Attitudes need to be gauged in a domain-specific manner since a risk behavior was originally regarded as a domain undefined trait but recent studies show that a common risk element cannot be eliminated definitely. However, it is broadly recognized that domain-specific assessments are significant when predicting and explaining behavior. Moreover, risk-taking largely remains a diverse concept rather than dependable as witnesses across financial, moral, recreational, social, and safety issues. Current studies demonstrate that evaluating domain-specific attitudes towards risk through questionnaires can be more prosperous in gauging risky behaviors than adopting utility concepts (Zahera & Bansal, 2018, p. 217). Behaviors concluded from perilous selections are a replica of the domain-oriented conduct instead of thinking of a steady trait.

Measuring risk attitude through scientific means also needs to ensure reliability since this aspect maintains the quality of assessment as well as the overall uniformity of the experiment. Various factors such as the number of pieces and item difficulty can limit the reliability of using questionnaires. Regarding the item quantity, the received score of any experiment constitutes both a correct tally and a random inaccuracy. Therefore, the process is extremely consistent when unplanned mistakes are minimal (Zahera & Bansal, 2018, p. 213). For an item difficulty, if the survey aims at the populace, then the dependability roots in the intricacy of the documented questions. Based on the emotional works, interrogations should be understandable enough without unambiguous expansion and should not require a statistical or mathematical background.

Moreover, tools integrating numbers, such as variance and probabilities can result in cogency apprehensions since they intensely emphasize reasoning aspects while neglecting emotional components. For instance, the prospect theory-based questionnaire typically concentrates on choices between losses or sure gains and lottery tasks, gambles, or other financial measures (Metzger & Fehr, 2018, p. 3). Questions also need not be too precise to an understanding of investment, such as selecting the required risk-gaining profile from a choice since investors might lack the comprehension of probable consequences. Therefore, items need to be simple for the enhanced understanding by everyone. Finally, a risk attitude measure must incorporate validity since a test is effective when the tool evaluates what is meant to do. When ensuring validity, two main points should be considered: the use of a suitable validity principle and the application of an appropriate sample.

How an Event Alters Investor’s Attitude toward Risk

Theoretical and Empirical Analysis

To make appropriate investment choices, investors require information and need to be conversant with existing activities in the area of interest. Awareness can be attained through social learning as well as collecting pertinent information from diverse sources. The extent of awareness of various events can impact an investor’s attitude by enhancing the level of knowledge and forecasting ability. According to Metzger and Fehr (2018, p. 6), awareness by an investor can be improved through learning from investment opportunities from peers, distributors, and issuers of the information who remain consistently informed by financial expert intermediaries. Alternatively, cognizance can be increased by sensitizing key stakeholders on investment matters, which is largely determined by venture capitalists’ resources, educational background, and age. Such information when possessed by a person can help determine their risk insight. When information is availed, investors handle it decidedly risky and vice-versa. However, when certain events come into play, they can alter an investor’s attitude towards risk.

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Firstly, investor awareness, which can have two events, unaware and aware play a significant role in altering risk attitude. For instance, an aware investor might understand the presence and features of a risky asset such as stock and hence spend on bonds. In stock markets, it is common for information to trickle from the source to investors through many channels. These include voluntary disclosure, obligatory public disclosure, and other ways that comprise buying study reports from stock analysts and consulting firms. Some companies also conceal useful information through window dressing and other accounting loopholes. Risk repugnance is essential in life-phase prototypes as individuals encounter risks regarding income, investment, asset returns, employment, and health (O’Donoghue & Somerville, 2018, p. 91). However, professionals can mine data by using different statistical tools, mathematical models, and other techniques.

Secondly, social interaction can change an investor’s attitude and make a different choice. Through social learning, an individual can receive crucial information that alters a decision. For instance, people interested in stock investment can seek the necessary information from a peer who had ventured into such a deal. Depending on the nature of advice, the outcome of such an interaction can make or break the decision of an individual to capitalize on a particular area of interest. A selection that encompasses risk is better exemplified by a lottery since it has a record of likely results coupled with the likelihood linked to every outcome (O’Donoghue & Somerville, 2018, p. 91). Therefore, the peer effect can increase or decrease an investor’s attitude towards risk. Many studies record that peer effects are a powerful determinant of portfolio selection. The level of education sometimes does not matter, especially in stock ownership. The highly educated can invest in stocks since they can master the requirements through their knowledge and experience. Newspaper readership also influences raising awareness since increased circulation raises the possibility of investment opportunities such as corporate bonds, mutual funds, and stock.

Thirdly, cognition aspects can impact an investor’s attitude towards taking a risk. According to Institute Research Foundation (2018, p. 30), cognition is the individual’s conviction towards an object, which the belief can either be negative or positive based on aspects such as dishonesty, inspiration, intelligence, morals, and knowledge. The evaluation of cognitive elements of a financial perception is upsetting and might be deceptive. Emotional responses or assessments happen at an early phase and can be more fundamental than cognitive appraisals. It is acknowledged that cognition and emotion are symbiotic and not competing.

Moreover, emotions emanating from core beliefs can make a financier regrets an investment choice since they consider that a bad outcome can be averted. For example, in a stock market, an investor is keener on the opportunity and financial risks than other possibilities (Moreland, 2018, p. 7). When an investor settles on a deal resolution, the discernment of these two perils tends to be a deciding element. When the venture capitalist is risk-averse, then he will initiate appropriate actions to lower the possibilities, for instance, by diversifying the investment. If the investor is risk-seeking, he will not expand the venture portfolio and continue with the undertaking with the hope of receiving high returns.

From an empirical perspective, scientific aspects play a role in determining an investor’s attitude towards risk. Outcomes from practical methods such as using questionnaires fulfill regulatory and scientific standards as demonstrated in a real-life portfolio. Empirical research conducted by Metzger & Fehr (2018, p. 3) to investigate current practical events that can alter an investor’s attitude towards risk showed significant results. Due to regulatory needs, evaluating an investor’s attitude toward risk is essential to every stakeholder (Zhang & Li, 2021, p. 5). In the study, the authors sought to establish a risk behavior survey, anchored in present tools for fulfilling scientific as well as regulatory standards. The investigators assessed factual investors and associated the examination statistics with real investment figures to evaluate the rationality of the strategy.

Significantly, the risk behavior catalog utilizes just six simple-to-understand items, which are reliable and explain considerable ways in influencing an investor’s attitude towards risk. Therefore, the obtained results fulfill the empirical aspect that drives attitude towards risk. Scientific approaches such as the use of questionnaires practically explain the measure of risk attitudes. The method provides a general perspective of an investor’s mind towards starting or circumventing a risk, as well as how to progress in circumstances with uncertain results. It also offers all-encompassing aspects in enterprise risk management, business continuity planning, and project risk management with a broad range of risks an individual or organization can face (Hopkin, 2017, p. 5). These characteristics, coupled with the anticipation of profits, assist investment portfolio construction and decision-making.


An individual eagerness to incur risks is momentous for any venture capitalist. Notably, financial assets can create significant revenues while carrying along diverse risks. It is possible to forecast minimally risk-averse investors and have their views on shares of precarious properties, such as stocks through portfolio theory. The above theoretical framework has been utilized in numerous empirical researches to build strategies of risk aversion from the individual’s portfolio selections. Pragmatic measuring of this logical connection has been the principal goal of many past studies. The research employs survey data to gauge the risk outlooks of investors either through interviewing about individual attitudes and behaviors or even by hypothetical decision challenges relating to perceived threats and income. The research establishes a significant statistical correlation between portfolio choice and risk attitudes. Typical economic models adopt that people are endowed with steady risk attitudes. However, it is conceivable that venturing into chancy properties impacts risk attitudes.

Attitudes toward risk influence an individual perception of a broad range of events. The research has provided deepened analysis of drivers of risk attitude, the accepted definition, and ways of measuring risk while also expounding on events that alter risk behaviors through theoretical and empirical perspectives. Investors with a higher inclination towards taking risks can possibly want to hold company assets, stocks, and bonds. Specific risk aversion seems to be categorized by inexplicable heterogeneity. Moreover, it has been established that every investor is a risk-taker since all the decisions have an aspect of uncertainty about them. The frequency at which decision-makers relish assuming risk relies on their attitudes. For instance, the challenge of deciding whether to vend a service or product depends on possible events, probable actions, payoffs, and the likelihood that the incident will happen. Consequently, selecting the appropriate action necessitates constructing a verdict chart to abridge the appraisal of the above four elements.

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Following the latest global financial crisis, the protection of investors has gained considerable priority by various authorities tasked with international financial business regulation. Suitability has become the prime model of new rules and procedural needs. For instance, the European Union uses the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive whereas the U.S. has adopted the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Rule 2111. Explicitly, suitability integrates the mentor’s need by suggesting transaction approaches, which suit the state and needs of customers, thereby avoiding misselling. Under this scenario, an advisor requires proper and sensible information to evaluate suitability. For example, they will require the financial situation, time horizon, investment objectives, and client’s readiness to admit risk attitude. Consequently, establishing appropriateness relies on the capability in analyzing an investor’s risk profile.

The values of an investment reflect a venture’s preferences regarding the likelihood of prospective payoffs and their evaluation of such settlements. The incremental figures to a financier of future payments reduce with the extent of their wealth. Therefore, everything else is kept constant, and investments that incline to generate higher payouts in circumstances when wealth is lesser tend to be highly valued. Anchored in this premise, contemporary finance theory models value anticipations of the future settlements computed not based on objective statistical probability but instead based on the favorite-weighted possibility measure.


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Zhang, Q., & Li, Z. (2021). Time-varying risk attitude and the foreign exchange market behavior. Research in International Business and Finance, 57, 101394. Web.

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