<h3>Scale matters: Risk perception, return expectations, and investment propensity under different scalings</h3>
<p>Christoph Huber and Jürgen Huber</p>
<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-018-09598-4" rel="nofollow">Link to Article</a></p>
<p>With a novel experimental design we investigate whether risk perception, return expectations, and investment propensity are influenced by the scale of the vertical axis in charts. We explore this for two presentation formats, namely return charts and price charts, where we depict low- and high-volatility assets with distinct trends. We find that varying the scale strongly affects people's risk perception, as a narrower scale of the vertical axis leads to significantly higher perceived riskiness of an asset even if the underlying volatility is the same. Furthermore, past returns predict future return expectations almost perfectly. In our setting perceived profitability was considered more important than perceived riskiness when making investment choices.
Overall we show that adapting the scale of a chart makes it easier to recognize yearly return variations <em>within</em> a single security, but at the same time makes it harder to identify differences <em>between</em> dissimilar securities. This is something regulators should be aware of and take into account in the rules they set.</p>