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Do professional traders exhibit myopic loss aversion? An experimental analysis


  • Michael Haigh
  • John List


Two behavioral concepts, loss aversion and mental accounting, have recently been combined to provide a theoretical explanation of the equity premium puzzle. Recent experimental evidence suggests that undergraduate students' behavior is consistent with this "myopic loss aversion" conjecture. Our suspicion is that, much like certain anomalies in the realm of riskless decisions, these behavioral tendencies will be severely attenuated when real market players are put to the task. Making use of a unique subject pool-professional futures and options pit traders recruited from the Chicago Board of Trade-we do find behavioral differences between professionals and students. Yet, rather than discovering that the anomaly disappears, the data suggest that professional traders exhibit myopic loss aversion to a greater extent than undergraduate students.

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  • Michael Haigh & John List, 2005. "Do professional traders exhibit myopic loss aversion? An experimental analysis," Artefactual Field Experiments 00052, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00052

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    2. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
    3. John A. List, 2002. "Preference Reversals of a Different Kind: The "More Is Less" Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1636-1643, December.
    4. Locke, Peter R. & Mann, Steven C., 2005. "Professional trader discipline and trade disposition," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 401-444, May.
    5. Richard H. Thaler & Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman & Alan Schwartz, 1997. "The Effect of Myopia and Loss Aversion on Risk Taking: An Experimental Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 647-661.
    6. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    8. Gollier, Christian & Lindsey, John & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 1997. "Investment Flexibility and the Acceptance of Risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 219-241, October.
    9. Uri Gneezy & Arie Kapteyn & Jan Potters, 2003. "Evaluation Periods and Asset Prices in a Market Experiment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(2), pages 821-838, April.
    10. Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(1), pages 15-25, 01-02.
    11. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71.
    12. Theodore W. Schultz, 1962. "Reflections on Investment in Man," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-1.
    13. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, March.
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