Impact of Emotions on Globalized Financial Risks

A live, international debate in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the University of Geneva on how perception, awareness, and appetite for risk-taking influences financial decisions.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


March 29, 2012 from 8:30 am to 10:00 am America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

Join a live, international debate on how perception, awareness, and appetite for risk-taking influences our financial decisions, and how we could better manage and mitigate the impact. Together with the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), swissnex San Francisco hosts Bay Area experts in a highly interactive web conference (part of the UNIGE – WEF Debate Series) with speakers and participants across the globe in Switzerland.

The psychology of emotion plays a critical role in financial decision-making and risk-taking. Recent research demonstrates that emotion is important in how people process risk information and respond to potential threats. This may be positive when “gut feelings” integrate past experience in a constructive fashion. It can also go wrong when there are appraisal biases, as in the case of “dread risks” (low-probability, high-consequence events such as 9/11) that cause direct and indirect damage.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, for example, the public’s desire to avoid airline travel not only contributed to economic loss, but that behavior also resulted in an estimated 1,595 additional highway deaths—six times the deaths on the four fatal flights (Gigerenzer, 2006).

During the conversation at swissnex and in Switzerland, speakers will probe whether financial risks have increased or whether our perception and awareness of these risks has just become more magnified over the recent decades. What is the role of emotion in financial markets and in financial risks assessment? And how can we manage and mitigate both objective and subjective dimensions in financial risks?

Read more about WEF’s risk predictions for 2012 here.


9:00 am  doors open
9:30 am  presentations, debate, light refreshments
11:30 am  doors close


Brian Knutson (live in San Francisco)

brian knutsonBrian Knutson is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Stanford University and directs the Symbiotic Project on Affective Neuroscience. He received bachelors degrees in psychology and comparative religion from Trinity University (San Antonio,TX); a doctorate in psychology from Stanford University (Stanford CA); and did postdoctoral research in affective neuroscience at UCSF Medical School (San Francisco, CA) and the National Institute of Health, (Bethesda, MD).
His laboratory uses multiple methods (psychometrics, psychophysiology, brain imaging, and pharmacology) to investigate neural mechanisms that underlie emotional experience, and explores implications of this work for clinical disorders of affect and addiction, as well as for economic decision-making.
Knutson has received Young Investigator awards from the American Psychiatric Association, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Society and Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. His research is funded by grants from several organizations including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He has been invited to speak about his research in psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, economics, finance, and marketing departments around the world. His laboratory’s research is regularly featured in top journals and popular media outlets.


Rajna Gibson Brandon

Rajna Gibson BrandonRajna Gibson Brandon is Professor of Finance at the University of Geneva since September 2008 and holds a Swiss Finance Institute Chair, Managing Director of the Geneva Finance Research Institute of the University of Geneva and the head of research at the Swiss Finance Institute. Prof. Gibson is currently Deputy Director and has been the Director of the NCCR “Financial Valuation and Risk Management” (FINRISK) and Member of the Board of Directors of Swiss Re since June 2000 and has been Member of the Swiss Takeover Panel and of the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (currently named the FINMA). Her current research interests cover asset pricing, risk management, corporate governance and experimental


Chiemi Hayashi

Chiemi HayashiChiemi Hayashi, Director and Head of Research for the Risk Response Network at the World Economic Forum, is responsible for the Global Risks Report, subject-specific projects such as Risk and Responsibility in a Hyper-connected World, Supply Chain, and Transport Risk. Formerly, she lead a number of the Forum’s industry scenarios such as the Future of Cloud Computing, Future of Pensions and Healthcare, Technology and Innovation in Financial Services, and regional scenarios such as those for in the Middle East; managed cross-regional and divisional projects ranging from Japanese government bonds to derivatives, Goldman Sachs, Japan. Hayashi holds a BA in International Studies from the International Christian University, Japan, a diploma in International Business form the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.


Kurt E. Karl

Kurt E. KarlAs head of Swiss Re’s Economic Research and Consulting, Kurt E. Karl supervises Swiss Re’s sigma papers, the award-winning research series on the insurance industry. In addition, he and his team support Swiss Re’s strategic planning and provide internal consulting on new products, insurance market developments, and the global economy. He is an expert on the U.S. and global economies with extensive experience and knowledge of foreign markets and has lived and worked in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Karl is a contributor to many forecasting surveys, including those of the Wall Street Journal, Blue Chips, Bloomberg, and Reuters. He is widely quoted in the financial press.
Prior to joining Swiss Re, Karl was chief international economist at WEFA, Inc., an economic forecasting firm. He has a BA from the University of Oregon, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University.


Klaus Scherer

Klaus SchererKlaus Scherer is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Geneva and directs the Centre Interfacultaire en Science Affective and the Swiss Center for Affective Science. He studied economics and social sciences at the University of Cologne and the London School of Economics. Following his postgraduate studies in psychology, he obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1970.
Scherer is a member of several international scientific societies and a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Acoustical Society of America. He was an invited professor at Stanford, Berkeley, the University of Zurich, and EHESS Paris. He has been elected member of the Academia Europea and honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant.
Scherer’s major research interest is the further theoretical development and empirical test of his Component Process Model of Emotion (CPM), specifically the modeling of appraisal-driven processes of motor expression and physiological reaction patterns, as well as the reflection of these processes in subjective experience. Other major research foci consist of the study of the expression of affect in voice and speech and applied emotion research. Cross-cultural research also constitutes an important aspect of his work.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos