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Do emotions affect insurance demand?

Gianni Brighetti (Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Caterina Lucarelli (Department of Management, University Politecnica Marche, Ancona, Italy)
Nicoletta Marinelli (Department of Economics and Law, University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy)

Review of Behavioral Finance

ISSN: 1940-5979

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore how psychological variables are related to real-life insurance consumption. Specifically, the authors focus on whether emotions and psychological traits can improve the predictability of insurance demand, taking traditional socioeconomic variables under control.


The approach used was in-person survey, based on a traditional questionnaire, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and a psycho-physiological task (Iowa Gambling Task (IGT)).


A selective role of emotions and psychological traits has been proven to exist when comparing different insurance policies. Life and casualty insurance are affected by emotional arousal to losses; indemnity insurance by fear of the unknown, whereas health insurance by impulsivity.

Research limitations/implications

The findings indicate that individual insurance consumption may be amplified by not cognitive components. Future research should concentrate on testing the effect of further psychological traits related to pure risk coverage.

Practical implications

The results may be of interest for insurers in order to know what drives insurance demand with respect to different kinds of pure risks.

Social implications

For policymakers, it is important to understand how psychological factors affect consumer behavior in order to incorporate such perspective into modern insurance policy measures. An analysis of such factors may also increase the self-consciousness of insurance consumers and enrich consumer self-protection.


The authors propose an interdisciplinary approach to analyze insurance demand and test different kinds of insurance coverage, suggesting not homogenous hedging behaviors in relation to specific ambiguous events.



This research was supported by Research National Grant No. PRIN2007-MIUR and by ASSORETI.

 The authors are grateful for comments and suggestions received by seminar participants of the European Financial Management Association – EFMA 2013 Annual Meeting, Reading, UK and of the World Finance Conference 2013 – CYPRUS.

 The authors are grateful to the whole research team involved in running experiments: Camilla Mazzoli, Cristina Ottaviani, Valeria Nucifora, Rosita Borlimi, Giulio Palomba, Elisa Gabbi, Arianna Rizzoli, Sara Falcioni, Andrea Galentino and Irene Bellodi. The authors also thank Fergus McGuckian for comments on the text.

 For the first stage of analysis (PRIN2007-MIUR), the authors are grateful to all institutions and intermediaries that allowed the authors to run experiments on their customers and employees: Borsa Italiana Stock Exchange, Twice SIM, Banca Popolare di Ancona – UBI Group, Assogestioni, JPMorgan-Italy, Pioneer, Eurizon Capital, Azimut, UbiPramerica, Arca and Prima sgr, Assoreti, Allianz Bank Financial Advisors, Banca Fideuram/Sanpaolo Invest Sim, Banca Mediolanum, Finanza – Futuro Banca, Finecobank, Ubi Banca Private Investment.

 For the second stage (ASSORETI 2011), the authors are grateful to ASSORETI, and specifically to Marco Tofanelli, Secretary-General, and Antonio Spallanzani, President, who allowed a remarkable enlargement of the original sample, together with Allianz Bank Financial Advisors, Azimut, Banca Fideuram/Sanpaolo Invest Sim, Banca Mediolanum, Finanza & Futuro Banca, Finecobank, Ubi Banca Private Investment.


Brighetti, G., Lucarelli, C. and Marinelli, N. (2014), "Do emotions affect insurance demand?", Review of Behavioral Finance, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 136-154.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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