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The Psychophysiology of Real-Time Financial Risk Processing

  • Andrew W. Lo
  • Dmitry V. Repin

A longstanding controversy in economics and finance is whether financial markets are governed by rational forces or by emotional responses. We study the importance of emotion in the decisionmaking process of professional securities traders by measuring their physiological characteristics, e.g., skin conductance, blood volume pulse, etc., during live trading sessions while simultaneously capturing real-time prices from which market events can be defined. In a sample of 10 traders, we find significant correlation between electrodermal responses and transient market events, and between changes in cardiovascular variables and market volatility. We also observe differences in these correlations among the 10 traders which may be systematically related to the traders' levels of experience.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8508.

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Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Lo, Andrew W. and Dmitry V. Repin. "The Psychophysiology of Real-Time Financial Risk Processing." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 14, 3 (April 1, 2002): 323-339.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8508
Note: AP
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  1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  2. De Bondt, Werner F M & Thaler, Richard, 1985. " Does the Stock Market Overreact?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 793-805, July.
  3. Simon Gervais & Terrance Odean, . "Learning To Be Overconfident," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 5-97, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  4. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
  5. Shefrin, Hersh & Statman, Meir, 1985. " The Disposition to Sell Winners Too Early and Ride Losers Too Long: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 777-90, July.
  6. Gur Huberman, 2001. "Contagious Speculation and a Cure for Cancer: A Nonevent that Made Stock Prices Soar," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(1), pages 387-396, 02.
  7. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
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