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Cognitive abilities and behavioral biases

  • Oechssler, Jörg
  • Roider, Andreas
  • Schmitz, Patrick W.

We use a simple, three-item test for cognitive abilities to investigate whether established behavioral biases that play a prominent role in behavioral economics and finance are related to cognitive abilities. We find that higher test scores on the cognitive reflection test of Frederick [Frederick, S., 2005. Cognitive reflection and decision-making. Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, 25-42] indeed are correlated with lower incidences of the conjunction fallacy and conservatism in updating probabilities. Test scores are also significantly related to subjects' time and risk preferences. Test scores have no influence on the amount of anchoring, although there is evidence of anchoring among all subjects. Even if incidences of most biases are lower for people with higher cognitive abilities, they still remain substantial.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 72 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 147-152

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:147-152
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Drehmann, Mathias & Oechssler, Jörg & Roider, Andreas, 2004. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets - An Internet Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 7, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Who is “Behavioral”? Cognitive Ability and Anomalous Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001334, David K. Levine.
  3. De Long, J. Bradford & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H. & Waldmann, Robert J., 1990. "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," Scholarly Articles 3725552, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," Research Memorandum 040, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  5. Oechssler, Jörg & Roider, Andreas & Schmitz, Patrick W, 2008. "Cooling-Off in Negotiations - Does It Work?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Guillen, Pablo & del Paso, Rafael López, 2008. "Math skills and risk attitudes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 332-336, May.
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  8. Mathias Drehmann & Jörg Oechssler & Andreas Roider, 2005. "Herding with and without Payoff Externalities - An Internet Experiment," Working Papers 0420, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2005.
  9. Nicholas Barberis & Richard Thaler, 2002. "A Survey of Behavioral Finance," NBER Working Papers 9222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
  11. Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. " Does the Stock Market Rationally Reflect Fundamental Values?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 591-601, July.
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