Investing with Brain or Heart? A Field Experiment on Responsible Investment

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Socially responsible investment is increasingly prevalent in financial markets and is characterized by the integration of financial and nonfinancial objectives. This paper investigates the influence of wealth concerns and moral concerns on individual investors’ decisions to invest responsibly. We conduct a unique natural field experiment of investors in an online banking context, wherein we frame responsible investment with regard to either wealth or morality and study investors’ subsequent behavior. We find that wealth framing is more effective than moral framing for both information search and investment behavior. Our study contributes to the literature by providing real-life insight into how prosocial decision making in financial markets can be promoted.

This paper was accepted by John List, behavioral economics.

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