We’ve discussed the importance of not becoming emotionally involved with investing or a trade or even the entire market. Now, a new study of aphasiacs — a kind of brain damage affecting only specific regions of the brain — turn out to make better investment decisions than people with "undamaged" brains.

The study shows "people with brain damage that impaired their ability
to experience emotions such as fear outperformed other people in an
investment game."

The (obvious)
conclusion is that mixing emotion with investing can lead to bad
outcomes:

"By linking brain science to investment behavior, researchers concluded that people with an impaired ability to experience emotions could actually make better financial decisions than other people under certain circumstances. The research is part of a fast-growing interdisciplinary field called "neuroeconomics" that explores the role biology plays in economic decision making, by combining insights from cognitive neuroscience, psychology and economics. The study was published last month in the journal Psychological Science, and was conducted by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the University of Iowa."

Quite simply, if you can avoid your own instincts when investing or trading, you remove a source of underperformance.

My favorite exposition on this topic comes from Michael Mauboussin back when he was at Credit Suisse First Boston, titled "What Have You Learned in the Past 2 Seconds?"

The bottom line is that learning to control your "emotional responsiveness" is an advantage when investing. You are more willing to take calcualted gambles with high payoffs when you control fear. Too much cautious and being overly reactive to your emotions will hurt your performance:

"Some neuroscientists believe good investors may be exceptionally skilled at suppressing emotional reactions. "It’s possible that people who are high-risk takers or good investors may have what you call a functional psychopathy," says Antoine Bechara, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, and a co-author of the study. "They don’t react emotionally to things. Good investors can learn to control their emotions in certain ways to become like those people."

Neuroeconomics helps explain why don’t people always act in their own self-interest: Its because they are often irrational.

Before you start whacking yourself in the head with a cast iron skillet
to improve your returns, understand that this is a very specific type
of injury with a peculiar brain damage; Merely giving yourself a blunt
head trauma could accidentally lead to a career in economics, not money
management. 

 

>

Source:
Lessons From The Brain-Damaged Investor
Unusual Study Explores Links Between Emotion and Results;
‘Neuroeconomics’ on Wall Street

JANE SPENCER
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 21, 2005; Page D1
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112190164023291519,00.html

Category: Investing, Psychology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

5 Responses to “Neuroeconomics: Brain Damaged Investors”

  1. Anand Gupta says:

    So this is what it takes to succeed as investor!

  2. royce says:

    Note that in real world investing the brain-damaged folk had subpar results because of their higher tolerance for risk and their tendency to get taken in by the promises of charlatans.

  3. Lance says:

    I realize that you probably don’t agree with my method of purchasing stocks, but the biggest gains I have had (as a professional) were when I felt almost sick to my stomach as I bought the stock (because they were at multi year lows and/or cratering). When I buy stocks on a dip and get excited or don’t feel any anxiety, they tend to turn out badly. So, not only do you have to understand the emotion involved with investing, but you have to harness it.

  4. BTM says:

    I quite agree aboue the result 1) brain-damaged investors would have better return whether “risk” is considered or not 2) emotion many times is not beneficial.

    While the modern finance revolutionized Finance from pure instinct or experience to quantitative analysis, it had heavily introduced averageing. Whose name can you call as great investor? Dose these guys have that education on that fancy math? While EMT gets its notch in textbook, most persons paid the tuition get intoxicated if the professors forget to mention that it could be not right. In factor those persons include the professors also. Lots of them started not to believe it and realized how many years it took them to throw it away.

    For practitioners, while consideration on risk is essentially necessary, it is not gracious to try to be average. Conservativeness all way down has its place. But conservativeness is what it is, but something else.

  5. BTM says:

    I quite agree aboue the result 1) brain-damaged investors would have better return whether “risk” is considered or not 2) emotion many times is not beneficial.

    While the modern finance revolutionized Finance from pure instinct or experience to quantitative analysis, it had heavily introduced averageing. Whose name can you call as great investor? Dose these guys have that education on that fancy math? While EMT gets its notch in textbook, most persons paid the tuition get intoxicated if the professors forget to mention that it could be not right. In factor those persons include the professors also. Lots of them started not to believe it and realized how many years it took them to throw it away.

    For practitioners, while consideration on risk is essentially necessary, it is not gracious to try to be average. Conservativeness all way down has its place. But conservativeness is what it is, but something else.