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Cognitive Dissonance and Mutual Fund Investors

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  • Goetzmann, William N
  • Peles, Nadav

Abstract

We present evidence from questionnaire responses of mutual fund investors about recollections of past fund performance. We find that investor memories exhibit a positive bias, consistent with current psychological models. We find that the degree of bias is conditional upon previous investor choice, a phenomenon related to the well-known theory of cognitive dissonance. Psychological and economic frictions in the mutual fund industry are examined via a cross-sectional study of equity mutual funds. We find an unusually high frequency of poorly performing funds, consistent with investor "inertia." We also examine the differential responses of investment dollars to past performance, controlling for supervisorship. These show that the effect is confined to the top quartile. We find little evidence that the response to poor performance is unusual.

Suggested Citation

  • Goetzmann, William N & Peles, Nadav, 1997. "Cognitive Dissonance and Mutual Fund Investors," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 20(2), pages 145-158, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfnres:v:20:y:1997:i:2:p:145-58
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    1. Ippolito, Richard A, 1992. "Consumer Reaction to Measures of Poor Quality: Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 45-70, April.
    2. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    3. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    4. Chevalier, Judith & Ellison, Glenn, 1997. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1167-1200, December.
    5. Brown, Stephen J & Goetzmann, William N, 1995. " Performance Persistence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 679-698, June.
    6. Brown, Stephen J, et al, 1992. "Survivorship Bias in Performance Studies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 5(4), pages 553-580.
    7. De Long, J Bradford & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers & Robert J. Waldmann, 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 703-738, August.
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