I am delighted to introduce a guest blog by Dr Daniel Richards about some research we collaborated on. The disposition effect describes a bias that causes investors to be more willing to sell investments that have risen in in value than those that have fallen in value. Our research shows that investors who rely less on emotions and intuition and investors who manage their emotions more effectively are less likely to show this investment bias.

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” —Ursula K. LeGuin To listen to some scholars of decision-making, it is a great wonder that humans have survived as long as they have. We are constantly prone to biases, rely on simplistic […]

Let’s call him James, a trader in a City investment bank; young, smartly dressed, confident, and a little impatient. He sat across from me in the interview:

It’s really important to stay cool. For myself, I can say that I really don’t have much emotion while I trade”.

Half an hour later, as he relaxed a little, the façade had started to crack:

Actually the pressure can be horrendous, a trade goes badly wrong, you are staring into black hole, frozen, knowing you should get out but just hoping the market will turn . . I rushed off the desk and threw up in the toilet – I was terrified”.

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Here is a link to my interview with Michael Considine of Share Radio. Where I talk about my research on emotions and investment and the work of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance.

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 […]

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 […]