XXV Edition

1-2 December 2016"

Can Words Breed or Kill Investment? Metaphors, Imagery, Affect and Investor Behaviour

Prast Henriëtte, Tilburg University
Sanders José, Radboud University
Leonhard Olga, University of Amsterdam / University of Sussex

In "building your portfolio", building is what linguists call a conceptual metaphor: the investor does not literally pile up his assets like they were bricks, but "building" is used as a metaphor for putting together elements. We could therefore also say "cooking", "sewing" or "weaving" your portfolio, as these are also activities that involve putting together elements to make your life comfortable. Conceptual metaphors make some aspects of the topic at hand salient, and hide others. Metaphors create imagery and induce affect. As the latter is shown to influence risk perception and return expectations, it is worthwile to study metaphors in stock market reporting. In this paper we identify the metaphors in general newspaper articles on the stock market both during a crash and in “normal” times. We find that journalists use many metaphors, that these come from a limited number of source domains, and that the latter are predominantly masculine, thus “priming” readers with certain aspects of investing. We speculate that this may bias investors toward trading and create positive affect among men, not women. If so, stock market reporting in newspapers could contribute to the well documented gender difference in stock market participation and (excess) trading. We suggest further research to verify this.

Area: Other

Keywords: Metaphors, imagery

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