This article describes two studies of the factors affecting consumer understanding of financial risk. The first study investigated factors affecting people's perception and comprehension of information about the risks related to retirement investments. First, we asked respondents to list possible risk factors related to investment in a pension plan. Then we obtained ratings of different factors (e.g., the perceived level of knowledge about an investment) that could affect perception of the risk of financial products and retirement investment decisions. Finally, we asked the subjects to rate 11 different descriptions presenting risk information about the same financial product. The risk information framing that received highest rating presented risk as variation between minimum and maximum values with an average in between. The second study demonstrated the risk framing that received highest ranking also prompted more stable risk preferences over a 3-month testing period in comparison to standard measures of risk aversion. Thus, the second study corroborated the importance of the findings in the first study and also indicated that, although people can exhibit stable risk preferences if we ask them the right questions, these preferences were very specific to the risk domain
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