Beyond the differences in their credentials, a study led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and New York University suggests that taking the perspective of a professional trader may alter the emotional reaction to losing money and result in different choices.
Their findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The work examined correlations between loss-averse behavior and physiological arousal while subjects were asked to either focus on individual choices or take a portfolio perspective ("think like a trader"), which was hypothesized to reduce the emotional reaction to potential losses. The researchers combined methods from psychological and economic research, providing a detailed picture of how people make choices and how their perspective changes the mechanisms of decision-making.
Specifically, they asked subjects to complete a series of 140 choices between a risky gamble and a guaranteed amount of return. Subjects completed two sets of choices—one set using a strategy emphasizing each choice in isolation and one set using a strategy emphasizing each choice as one of many. Choices in isolation are analogous to those an amateur trader might make; choices made as one of many are akin to decisions a professional trader would implement because they simulate management of a diversified portfolio.
When making choices in isolation many of the subjects were loss averse. That is, they were more concerned about avoiding financial losses than in making financial gains. However, when subjects were asked to make choices using a strategy that emphasized these choices' larger context as one of many decisions—such as the decisions one would make in managing a portfolio of investments—the vast majority of participants were less loss averse.
In an effort to examine emotional factors that may coincide with the behavioral expression of loss aversion, the researchers measured changes in subjects' skin conductance due to increased sweating in response to learning the outcomes of their decisions. The results for choices made in isolation showed that subjects sweat significantly more, per dollar, to losses than gains. This "over-arousal" to losses was correlated with behavioral loss aversion, which suggests a specific role for emotions in choice. However, when subjects made decisions using the "portfolio" strategy mentioned above, the over-arousal effect disappeared—average levels of sweating per dollar were about the same for gains and losses.
The findings could be relevant to drawing distinctions between amateur and professional traders because the professionals are trafficking in portfolios and amateurs are not. Specifically, the findings support the conclusion that professionals have learned not just facts about investments, but also strategies for limiting the normal emotional response that might prevent amateurs from making the same decisions given the same information.
The research was conducted in the laboratory of NYU's Elizabeth Phelps, one of the study's co-authors.
"These results highlight how a simple shift in perspective can influence both the emotional reaction to a financial decision, and the decision itself," commented Phelps, who is professor of psychology and neural science at NYU.
Peter Sokol-Hessner, the study's lead author, added, "Though on average we may dislike losses more than we like gains, both in our behavior and in our physiological responses to them, it seems we have the power to change that."
James Devitt | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences