One of the most important contributions of behavioral economics is that it offers people a new way to think about their choices. We now have a language to describe our biases, mental shortcuts and behavioral tendencies, whether it’s a strong dislike of losses or a preference for rewards that arrive right away.
However, one of the fundamental limitations of this research is that it often doesn’t account for individual differences. Take loss aversion. While on average, we feel losses about 2.5 times stronger than gains, this population summary conceals a large amount of individual variation. The same principle applies to a variety of behavioral principles, from present bias to the illusion of wealth. The simple truth is that people are different, and that we cannot make smart financial decisions without understanding these differences.
That’s why I’ve developed a collection of digital tools capable of measuring our individual preferences and tendencies across a range of behavioral traits. How you score on these measures has implications for nearly every aspect of your financial life, from setting an appropriate savings rate to the tailoring of retirement income. Below is a list of our current tests, along with access to the Loss Aversion Calculator.