We administer psychometric tests to senior executives to obtain evidence on their underlying psychological traits and attitudes. We find US CEOs differ significantly from non-US CEOs in terms of their underlying attitudes. In addition, we find that CEOs are significantly more optimistic and risk-tolerant than the lay population. We provide evidence that CEOs' behavioral traits such as optimism and managerial risk-aversion are related to corporate financial policies. Further, we provide new empirical evidence that CEO traits such as risk-aversion and time preference are related to their compensation. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.