Financial Mood

We care more about the future when happy:

We conduct a random-assignment experiment to investigate whether positive affect impacts time preference, where time preference denotes a preference for present over future utility. Our result indicates that, compared to neutral affect, mild positive affect significantly reduces time preference over money. … Happier respondents are [also] less likely to agree with the “live for today” statement than are less happy respondents. This holds even after controlling for covariates that have been shown to be related to happiness … High cognitive load increases time preference and … individuals with greater cognitive skills, as measured by IQ tests, exhibit lower time preference. (more)

This is predicted by near-far analysis, since happy is far, and the future matters more in far mode. This matters for finance today, as whatever sets discount rates, sets prices:

“All price-dividend variation corresponds to discount-rate variation.” … When it comes to broad price aggregates, such as stocks in general or land in general, price changes basically reflect crazily-changing [discount rate] values. (more)

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  • Also from the cited report: “For example, positive affect has been shown to increase cognitive flexibility (Isen 2008); reciprocity in “gift-exchange” games (Georg Kirchsteiger, Luca Rigotti, and Aldo Rustichini 2006); work effort and productivity (Amir Erez and Isen 2005; and Andrew Oswald, EugenioProto, and Daniel Sgroi 2008); loss aversion (Isen, Thomas E. Nygren, and Gregory F. Ashby1988); and risk aversion when the stakes are high (Isen and Nehemia Geva 1987); and to decrease spending and willingness to pay (Lerner, Deborah A. Small, and Loewenstein 2004; and Cynthia E. Cryder et al. 2008); and risk aversion when the stakes are low (Isen and Geva 1987).”

    I wonder if these effects, too, are the result of construal mode.

    By the way, have you eliminated the open thread?

  • Ben

    If you are trying to smooth happiness over time and money can buy happiness isn’t this result rational.

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