Winter Sadness May Be Depressing Your Financial Portfolio

Winter Sadness May Be Depressing Your Financial Portfolio

The recession isn’t the only thing affecting your stock portfolio. Believe it or not, researchers have found that seasons can play a part in the amount of risk you’re willing to take in a financial investment.

According to a study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, people suffering from seasonal affective disorder are less likely to make risky financial decisions during the long cold winter months. During spring and summer, however, they are willing to take greater risks.

"We've never, until now, been able to tie a pervasive market-wide seasonal phenomenon to individual investors' emotions," said Lisa Kramer, a professor of behavioral finance at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, in a press release. Kramer cowrote the paper with Mark Weber from the University of Waterloo.

In the study, researchers asked the faculty and staff of an American university to complete behavioral assessments that they received payment for. They were then given the option of putting their money in an investment with 50:50 odds or in another one in which potential gains exceeded potential losses. Participants with a history of SAD chose the less risky option in the winter, but mimicked the other participants behavior in the summer.

About 6 percent of America’s population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD typically occurs during the fall and winter months, and people often experience depression, anxiety and hopelessness. For some, the cycle is reversed with the summer months bringing on feelings of sadness.

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