On fund-managers, rats and hermit crabs: reversion to familiar habits under stress

Hermit crabs rely on acquiring discarded shells for their protection and are constantly on the look-out for better shells. However, faced with environmental stress they prefer to stick with their old shell, however unsuitable, than risk moving to a new one[i]. Experiments with rats show that under stress habitual behaviour persists longer in the face… Continue reading On fund-managers, rats and hermit crabs: reversion to familiar habits under stress

New Personal Finance MOOC

The Open University's centre for the Public UnderStanding of Finance (PUFin) launches new MOOC Lead educator: Martin Upton, Director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PUFin) at the Open University Business School, and former Treasurer of Nationwide Business Society Gain the skills to manage your personal finances: managing budgets, debts,… Continue reading New Personal Finance MOOC

The Emotional Business of Finance

The video below is a presentation I made at the launch of the Open University Business School's Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (PuFin). You can find a copy of the slides here. Martin Lewis also made a very engaging presentation about financial education at the same event. Further presentations from the event can… Continue reading The Emotional Business of Finance

Investment, Emotions and the Temple at Delphi*

Can understanding the psychology of investment behaviour help you outperform the market? Probably not, but it can certainly help reduce the probability that you will under-perform the market. This matters, because the majority of private investors under-perform. One compelling piece of research evidence comes from a careful analysis, carried out by Dalbar research, of the… Continue reading Investment, Emotions and the Temple at Delphi*

It’s clouds’ illusions I recall . . . trading and the illusion of control

Humans have a great capacity for exercising control over their environment and for detecting patterns in the confusing mass of information they face. This capacity can also mislead; not least in financial markets. Have you ever looked at the clouds and seen faces or the shapes of animals. Did you as a child see monsters… Continue reading It’s clouds’ illusions I recall . . . trading and the illusion of control

Shopping, impulsiveness and weapons of massive consumption

Marketers need to understand such consumer behavior in order to formulate appropriate marketing strategy, allocate marketing budget below-the-line and design effective marketing tactics…… In such instances the acts may be normatively positive and leave the shopper feeling good Bayley and Nancarrow 1998: 99 And I am a weapon of massive consumptionAnd it's not my fault… Continue reading Shopping, impulsiveness and weapons of massive consumption

Lions and lion-shaped bushes in financial markets: traders’ expertise in emotion regulation

Fight or flight Imagine you are one of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, walking across the African plains. Or perhaps, in more recent times a Massai tribesman in Kenya. The grass is long in places and punctuated by small trees and bushes. You are carrying no more than a long pointed stick to protect you from dangerous… Continue reading Lions and lion-shaped bushes in financial markets: traders’ expertise in emotion regulation

On the false contrast between rationality and emotion

It is common to contrast emotions with rationality (usually in tandem with proclaiming the superiority of reason over emotion). Take for example this post on the changingminds blog. It is also the claim at the heart of Ayn Rand's morally barren apologia for the extremes of modern capitalism, 'Atlas Shrugged'. In this book she claims… Continue reading On the false contrast between rationality and emotion

Welcome to the emotional finance blog

Money fractures marriages, drives wars, inspires art, motivates some people to great achievements, leads others to despair. Fear, desire, love, hate, jealousy, anger, anxiety, relief, shame and many more shades of emotion may attach to money in the course of an ordinary day. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)Yet, economic accounts of human financial behaviour focus on reasoned… Continue reading Welcome to the emotional finance blog

LIBOR, rogue traders and the supply of motivated offenders

A brief trawl of media comment on the banking industry over the last few years suggests that the industry is awash with criminals and fraudsters. The picture of traders, often presented in the press, is of amoral risk-takers with bosses who are always ready to turn a blind eye if profits are being made. There… Continue reading LIBOR, rogue traders and the supply of motivated offenders