Tags: Successful | Traders | Crazy

Are Successful Traders Crazy? Research Says Yes

Friday, 02 March 2012 01:42 PM

Top traders have a lot in common with psychopaths, it turns out, and even outdo them when it comes to competitive behavior such as inordinate risk-taking and disregard for others in the pursuit of victory.

New research by a Swiss University studied 28 professional traders by putting them through computerized simulations. They compared the results with those of psychopaths, reports German magazine Speigel.

The result, said researchers at the University of St. Gallen, was shocking even to experts used to studying prisoners. Traders were more ego-driven and tended to take more risks than psychopaths who took the same test, they found.

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It wasn’t enough to win, they said. Traders want others to lose — badly. "It was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents," said Thomas Noll, who runs the Pöschwies prison near Zürich. "And they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents."

Imagine a neighbor has a car that is identical to yours, Noll told the magazine.

The stockbrokers did the equivalent of taking a baseball bat to the neighbor’s vehicle just to make their own look better by comparison.

Sticking it to the other guy is a trait apparently shared by the wealthy as well.

Separate research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people are more likely to lie, cheat, steal and otherwise behave unethically to get ahead, reports Bloomberg News.

In one test, 195 adults played a computer game that involved rolling dice to win $50. Since each person got the same results, researchers could tell when people were lying by the numbers they self-reported.

Folks earning more than $250,000 often lied to get the $50 prize, which surprised the researchers. They concluded that the perception among the rich is that greed is good, and that they feel insulated from the potential consequences of their actions, while poorer people more likely depend on their image in the community to get by.

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