The Ending Effect in Investment Decisions: The Motivational Need for an Emotionally Rewarding Ending

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2019 Apr;45(4):510-527. doi: 10.1177/0146167218788829. Epub 2018 Aug 25.


The present study examined the power of endings on risky decision making. With four experiments, the changes in the individuals' risk-taking tendencies were examined as the end of an investment decision task approached; the role of motivational shift toward emotional satisfaction in the ending effect was also explored. As predicted, participants who knew they were working on the last round of an investment task were more risk seeking than those who did not know (i.e., ending effect, Experiment 1). Experiments 2 through 4 examined the motivational mechanism of the ending effect. The results supported the notion that the motivation to pursue an emotionally rewarding ending leads to the ending effect. The present research complements existing motivational accounts of risk taking and suggests a new research direction of integrating factors associated with time perception of an approaching ending into existing models of risky decision making.

Keywords: emotional satisfaction; ending effect; motivation; risky decision making; socioemotional selectivity theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beijing
  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Investments*
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Reward*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult