Not all financial speculation is treated equally: Laypeople’s moral judgments about speculative short selling

Lotz, Sebastian; Fix, Andrea R. (2013). Not all financial speculation is treated equally: Laypeople’s moral judgments about speculative short selling. Journal of Economic Psychology, 37, pp. 34-41. Elsevier

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Since the recent financial crisis, regulators and the general public have focused on financial speculation as one of its potential causes. In addition to the roles played by rating agencies and complicated financial engineering, speculative short sales have been put into question. However, laypeople’s moral judgments about this type of financial speculation have rarely been investigated in economic psychology. The present study aims to fill this gap. Across four studies, we find that laypeople’s moral judgments of short selling are significantly harsher than their judgments of long positions. Both successful (Study 1) and unsuccessful (Study 2) short selling receives harsher moral judgments. In addition, studies which manipulate the moral character of the shorted asset (Study 3) or the time horizon of the investment strategy (Study 4) support the conclusion that short selling is considered less moral than taking a similar long position. The results present consistent support for a judgment bias of economic laypeople in the domain of financial economics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Organization and Human Resource Management > Organisation

UniBE Contributor:

Berger, Sebastian


600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics








Claudia Probst

Date Deposited:

07 Mar 2018 12:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:02




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