Posts filed under “Psychology”
What do gold prices, a stock-market plunge and a credit crisis have in common? The way investors tend to see them are examples of the “recency effect.“
A brief description first: In human psychology, people who are asked to recall items on a long list tend to have a sharper memory of the items toward the end. This is a function of finite memory capacity — you can’t remember everything, so you recall the more recent items.
From an evolutionary perspective, this makes some sense. Focusing on what happened some time ago while imminent threats exist probably isn’t the ideal survival strategy. The most recent threats are likely the more dangerous ones to your ability to procreate and pass on your DNA.
We see this manifest itself in investing in a related, albeit more nuanced way. Just to cite a few examples: Puerto Rico’s default is the new Greece; auto loans are the next subprime credit collapse; student debt is the next economic crisis.
All of these are demonstrably untrue (“So far!,” go the cries from the peanut gallery, where the recency effect is in full bloom). The issues resonate, because these events are a) recent and b) they traumatized many investors.
Trauma may be the key to understanding investment-related recency effects. In investing, it isn’t just the most recent events that stand out; it’s events of greater psychological or emotional weight that leave the more lasting mark.
Perhaps this emotional component is why so many people tend to make grotesque exaggerations and extrapolate in ways that lead to some truly awful forecasts. The credit crisis of 2008-09 means another, bigger market crash is just around the corner. The 41 percent drop in the value of the dollar from 2001 to 2008 means the end of the fiat currencies is nigh. Hyperinflation is coming! Buy gold!
Continues here: Confusing What Just Happened With What Happens Next
The Psychology of Risk: The Behavioral Finance Perspective by Victor Ricciardi Goucher College – Department of Business Management Abstract: Since the mid-1970s, hundreds of academic studies have been conducted in risk perception-oriented research within the social sciences (e.g., nonfinancial areas) across various branches of learning. The academic foundation pertaining to the “psychological aspects” of risk…Read More
Most investors are (or at least should be) familiar with the concept of “Home Country Bias” — the natural tendency to be more familiar and comfortable with public companies in your home country. Investors everywhere consistently display this trait, which is in direct conflict with the basic principles of international diversification. A 2014 report by Vanguard found…Read More
The new “World Wealth Report” for 2015 was released last week fromCap Gemini and RBC Wealth Management. The focus is on the population of high net worth individuals, or HNWIs as the report calls them. The report, based on a survey of more than 5,100 wealthy people in 23 major markets, is packed with fascinating data and…Read More
Summertime is here. The days are still getting longer, the kids will soon be in camp, the beach beckons. With Memorial Day behind us, we have 12 weeks before Labor Day sneaks up on us. My goal each year is to read three books a month between the holidays that mark the unofficial start and…Read More
Every now and again, I disagree with an article written by someone I like and respect. On occasion, an author will crank out a column that makes me angry. And on rare occasions, I will read something where I disagree with just about every sentence. Today is one of those total disagreement days. Marketwatch columnist Paul Farrell…Read More
click for ginormous chart Source: Bloomberg On this day 53 years ago, Wall Street had one of its worst sessions ever. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 5.7%, down 34.95, the second-largest point decline then on record.” It was part of a longer decline that some called the “Kennedy Slide…Read More