Everyone is Influenced by Behavioral Biases

Everyone is Influenced by Behavioral Biases

A recent article by Morningstar offers findings of a recent study showing that most Americans are overconfident and argues that investors “tend to make snap decisions and irrational—sometimes destructive—mistakes, based on what ‘feels’ right.”

The study, conducted by Morningstar on a “nationally representative sample of the U.S population,” found that although most Americans are overconfident (67% of the sample), Gen Zers are “significantly more overconfident—even more than millennials and Gen Xers.” The article contends that the “gamification” of investing that’s built into platforms like Robinhood, including “free stock for signing up, frequent updating and colorful screens based on performance, even digital confetti upon completion of a successful transaction—may at times, just worsen these tendencies.”

“We know that investor biases are not an anomaly,” the article argues, “and we shouldn’t underestimate their power.” The study also found that levels of bias were “strongly correlated with real-world outcomes like financial health, net worth, saving and spending habits, and so on.” For example, people with high overconfidence were found to be 3.33 times less likely to save for retirement.

The article notes that investing experts similarly suffer from bias and, further, that “self-confidence outstrips expertise.”

“We’re all a little biased,” the article notes, adding “When it comes to our finances, we’ve found that they can do real harm.” The article concludes, “We must, investors and advisors alike, recognize biases for what they are and take active steps to avoid them in our financial lives.”