Behavioral finance is the study of the influence of psychology on the behavior of financial practitioners and the subsequent effect on markets. Behavioral finance is of interest to value investors because it helps explain why and how markets might be inefficient. In addition, the study of behavioral finance helps investors understand how the mind can help or hinder investment success.
Last updated 04/11/2020
Many behavioral biases are ingrained aspects of human decision-making processes, which have served us well as ways of coping with day-to-day choices. But, are unhelpful for achieving success in long-term activities such as investing.
Only by understanding the biases and their effect, are we able to avoid major pitfalls and achieve a better understanding of financial market behavior.
“Traditional vs. behavioral finance
Over the past fifty years established finance theory has assumed that investors have little difficulty making financial decisions and are well-informed, careful and consistent. The traditional theory holds that investors are not confused by how information is presented to them and not swayed by their emotions. But clearly reality does not match these assumptions.
Behavioral finance has been growing over the last twenty years specifically because of the observation that investors rarely behave according to the assumptions made in traditional finance theory.
Behavioral researchers have taken the view that finance theory should take account of observed human behavior. They use research from psychology to develop an understanding of financial decision making and create the discipline of behavioral finance. This guide summarizes the findings of these ground-breaking financial theorists and researchers.”
“We cannot cure the biases, but we can attempt to mitigate their effects. Using techniques such as feedback, audit trails for decisions, checklists, and ‘devil’s advocates’ can help us take decisions in a more rational manner and improve the chances of investment success.”
“Understanding our brains
One emerging strand of research is the field of neuroeconomics. Medical imaging technology now allows us to look at brain activity as decisions are being made. This helps us to understand the nature and reasons for certain behavioral biases. A recent study demonstrated that individuals with brain lesions that impaired emotional decision-making were more likely to behave as rational investors than individuals with normal brains. (Source.) Other imaging studies have confirmed that the rational parts of our brain are in tension with the emotional or limbic sections of our brain. This line of enquiry offers the possibility of understanding and improving decision making.”
Behavioral Finance: Web resources
- Introduction to Behavioral Finance (.pdf), updated 14 April 2010
- Psychology of Successful Investing (.pdf), 12 February 2011
- Behavioral Finance - CFA Institute Publications (.pdf)
- A SURVEY OF BEHAVIORAL FINANCE° - Yale University (.pdf)
- BARBERIS, Nicholas C., and Richard H. THALER, 2003. A survey of behavioral finance. In: George M. CONSTANTINIDES, Milton HARRIS, and René M. STULZ, eds. Handbook of the Economics of Finance: Volume 1B, Financial Markets and Asset Pricing. Elsevier North Holland, Chapter 18, pp. 1053–1128.
- De BONDT, Werner F. M., and Richard THALER, 1985. Does the stock market overreact? The Journal of Finance, 40(3), 793–805.
- FAMA, Eugene F., 1998. Market efficiency, long-term returns, and behavioral finance. Journal of Financial Economics, 49(3), 283–306.
- FESTINGER, Leon, Henry W. RIECKEN, and Stanley SCHACHTER, 1956. When Prophecy Fails. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- KAHNEMAN, Daniel, Paul SLOVIC, and Amos TVERSKY, eds., 1982. Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge University Press.
- KAHNEMAN, Daniel, and Amos TVERSKY, 1979. Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47(2), 263–292.
- KAHNEMAN, Daniel, and Amos TVERSKY, 2000. Choices, Values, and Frames. Cambridge University Press.
- TVERSKY, Amos, and Daniel KAHNEMAN, 1974. Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185(4157), 1124–1131.
- TVERSKY, Amos, and Daniel KAHNEMAN, 1981. The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science,211(4481), 453–458.
- TVERSKY, Amos, and Daniel KAHNEMAN, 1992. Advances in prospect theory: Cumulative representation of uncertainty.Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 5(4), 297–323.
Behavioral Finance: Videos and lectures
- Paul Craven- Behavioral Finance: from biases to bubbles
- Behavioral Finance: The Documentary (In 29 Minutes)
- Behavioral Finance and the Role of Psychology
- Efficient Market Hypothesis and Behavioral Finance
- Behavioral Finance Lectures (YouTube playlist)
- Behavioral Finance Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
- Value Investing and Behavioral Finance - Dr. Daniel Crosby
- Behavioral Finance Speaker - Dr. Daniel Crosby
- Absolute beginners: behavioral economics and human
- Behavioral Finance | Wealth Matters
- CFA level III - Behavioral Finance Perspective (Curriculum reading)