Positive Mood Risk Attitudes, and Investment Decisions: Field Evidence From Comedy Movie Attendance in the US.

Gabriele Lepori

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Positive mood has been repeatedly shown to affect risk attitudes in laboratory settings, where subjects’ exposure to movie clips is among the most widely used and effective mood-induction procedures. Yet, conflicting lab results about the estimated sign of the mood effect have led researchers to formulate two alternative theories. The affect infusion model (AIM) argues that happy moods foster risk-prone behavior, whereas the mood-maintenance hypothesis (MMH) takes the opposite stance. In this paper I test the predictions of these two theories using real-world financial data and focusing on the same moodshifting mechanism commonly employed in lab studies. More specifically, I exploit the time-series variation in the domestic theatrical release of comedy movies as a natural experiment for testing the impact that happy mood (proxied by weekend comedy movie attendance) has on investment in risky
assets (proxied by the performance of the U.S. stock market on the following Monday). My hypothesis rests upon the evidence that individual investors are more likely to ponder trading decisions during the weekend and trade on Mondays. To control for unobserved factors that may contemporaneously affect
movie attendance and equity returns, I employ the percentage of theater screens dedicated to the comedy genre as an instrument. Using a sample of data from 1995 to 2010, I estimate that an increase in comedy attendance on a given weekend is followed by a decrease in equity returns on the subsequent Monday, which supports the MMH.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Number of pages59
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event2012 Conference on East Asia Finance: Crisis and Recovery of Financial Markets - Tamkang University, Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: 26 May 201227 May 2012


Conference2012 Conference on East Asia Finance
LocationTamkang University
Country/TerritoryTaiwan, Province of China
Internet address

Cite this