Instead of becoming more timid and investing more conservatively because of the uncertain economy, it seems a growing number of investors, even those nearing retirement, are more willing to take risks to achieve higher returns, says a new study of retirement plan participants by the Spectrem Group.

   The survey results from May indicate investors are taking the counterintuitive route and are willing to accept more risk in an effort to make up some lost ground. Of the total, 37% say they are willing to accept "significant investment risk in order to earn a high return," an increase from 31% who were risk tolerant in March 2008 and an increase from the 23% who said they were willing to take more risks in March 2007. The survey is based on 200 people who are actively investing in retirement plans.

   As would be expected, the percentage willing to risk their investments is higher among younger retirement plan participants with 45% of those under 35 willing to take more risks, compared to 34% a little more than a year ago. But even among the 50-and-up age bracket the risk-takers grew to 32% from 21% in March 2007. Those who said they were satisfied with their returns dropped from 49% in March 2008 to 27% in May 2008.

   Gerry O'Connor, Spectrem Group director, says the numbers indicate people are willing to take some short term risk, but he feels most people are confident equities will out perform bonds, which will out perform cash in the long run. But 29% of retirement plan participants say they are looking for more guidance about their options.