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Do professional traders exhibit myopic loss aversion? An experimental analysis

  • John List
  • Michael Haigh

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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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00052.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00052
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Gneezy, U. & Potters, J.J.M., 1996. "An experiment on risk taking and evaluation periods," Discussion Paper 1996-61, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  3. Thaler, Richard H, et al, 1997. "The Effect of Myopia and Loss Aversion on Risk Taking: An Experimental Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 647-61, May.
  4. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71, February.
  5. Gollier, C. & Lindsey, J. & Zeckhauser, R., 1996. "Investment Flexibility and the Acceptance of Risk," Papers 96.421, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  6. Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
  7. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
  8. Theodore W. Schultz, 1962. "Reflections on Investment in Man," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1.
  9. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  10. 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.
  11. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, 03.
  12. Uri Gneezy & Arie Kapteyn & Jan Potters, 2002. "Evaluation Periods and Assett Prices in a Market Experiment," Working Papers 02-02, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  13. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-73908 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. 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.
  15. repec:dgr:kubcen:20028 is not listed on IDEAS
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