Saturday, November 12, 2011

Michael Lewis on Prospect Theory

Prospect Theory and MoneyBall
"The moment the psychologists uncover some new kink in the human mind, they bestow a strange and forbidding name on it (“the availability heuristic”). In their most cited paper, cryptically titled “Prospect Theory,” they convinced a lot of people that human beings are best understood as being risk-averse when making a decision that offers hope of a gain but risk-seeking when making a decision that will lead to a certain loss. In a stroke they provided a framework to understand all sorts of human behavior that economists, athletic coaches, and other “experts” have trouble explaining: why people who play the lottery also buy insurance; why people are less likely to sell their houses and their stock portfolios in falling markets; why, most sensationally, professional golfers become better putters when they’re trying to save par (avoid losing a stroke) than when they’re trying to make a birdie (and gain a stroke)"

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