However complex decisions about risk might be, it takes little to impact the outcome: Just show people pictures of erotic scenes or rotten food.

In a forthcoming study by Northwestern University assistant finance professor Camelia Kuhnen and a Stanford University colleague, associate psychology and neuroscience professor Brian Knutson, 28 research recruits were asked to make 90 decisions on asset allocation that ranged from safe to volatile - but not before they were flashed pictures to first stoke an emotional reaction.

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