Several recent studies by the Investment Company Institute show that the volatility of the markets is affecting investor behavior significantly, though it appears that 401(k) owners are resisting the impulse to make sharp changes in their investing strategies.
A joint ICI/Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association study–Equity and Bond Ownership in America, 2008 (//www.ici.org/pdf/rpt_08_equity_owners.pdf) found that 54.5 million U.S. households owned equities or bonds as of early 2008, or 47% of all U.S. households. While that percentage is up from the 39% surveyed in 1989, it is down from the 57% recorded in 2001. Two-thirds of equity and bond owners reported consulting with an advisor at some point during the 2003-2008 time period. As for risk tolerance, the study found that after the bear market of 2000-2001, the willingness of all age groups to take risk for higher returns fell.