Sunday, 4 March 2012


I an indebted to PT for the following, it has to be said not too flattering, article on the nature of traders.
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.

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.
The conclusion is interesting. Having recently read the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, it mentions several times how Jobs didn't feel that the normal rules of behaviour applied to him - one example being his habit of parking in Handicap Parking spots without a second thought! Of course, trading is a zero-sum game, so any success that some of us have had has come at a cost to others. The anonymity of the trading platform means that I don't dwell too much on this, but the bottom line is that when we read blogs or forum posts from people that clearly are clueless, it should warm the cockles of our hearts since we need losers. Fortunately there seems to be an endless supply of them. You try to help the Odwyers of this world, but they ignore the advice, so they have only themselves to blame.

As for relating to the more successful traders out there, their success is an inspiration rather than something to be envious of. Ian Erskine has written many times about the vitriolic e-mails he receives from people who just do not get it. As has been discussed recently here, some people just do not have the right mindset to be successful at trading, while others do.

Apparently some of us are psychopaths, others aren't!

1 comment:

fedslam said...

Great post again Cassini, really enjoying your blog.

could you share my new link please? I have changed it from to


Jon (fedslam)