Online Investing: Derealization and the Experience of Risk

Detlev Zwick, York University
Nikhilesh Dholakia, University of Rhode Island
EXTENDED ABSTRACT - In this paper we set out to show that the Internet causes a disruption in traditional patterns of online investors’ perception, resulting in, what Lyng (1990) calls, edgework: a desire to experience risk as an end in itself. The perceptual disruption caused by the Internet is a function of two distinct yet interrelated processes: virtualization and derealization (Virilio, 2000). Virtualization denotes the process of substituting reality with virtual representations, including money, the practice of trading, companies, and even the Self. Because of this progressive virtualization of its key components, the entire investing experience seems increasingly unreal (derealization). It is only after the phenomenon of online investing has been derealized in the mind of the investor that it emerges as site par excellence for voluntary high risk-taking behavior, transforming its purpose from maximizing risk-adjusted returns to maximizing the experience of risk for its own sake.
[ to cite ]:
Detlev Zwick and Nikhilesh Dholakia (2004) ,"Online Investing: Derealization and the Experience of Risk", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 31, eds. Barbara E. Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 58-58.