Traders shout orders across
the crude oil futures pit of the New York Mercantile Exchange, June 20,
2005. A team of U.S. scientists has found the emotionally impaired are
more willing to gamble for high stakes and that people with brain damage
may make good financial decisions, the Times newspaper reported Monday.
LONDON (Reuters) - "Wanted: psychopaths to make a killing in the
Such an advert will not be appearing in the world's newspapers any
time soon, but it may have a ring of truth after research revealed the best
wheeler-dealers could well be "functional psychopaths."
A team of U.S. scientists has found the emotionally impaired are more
willing to gamble for high stakes and that people with brain damage may make
good financial decisions, the Times newspaper reported Monday.
In a study of investors' behavior 41 people with normal IQs were asked
to play a simple investment game. Fifteen of the group had suffered lesions
on the areas of the brain that affect emotions.
The result was those with brain damage outperformed those without.
The scientists found emotions led some of the group to avoid risks even when
the potential benefits far outweighed the losses, a phenomenon known as myopic
One of the researchers, Antione Bechara, an associate professor of neurology
at the University of Iowa, said the best stock market investors might plausibly
be called "functional psychopaths."
Fellow author, Baba Shiv of Stanford Graduate School of Business said many
company chiefs and top lawyers may also show they share the same trait.
"Emotions serve an adaptive role in speeding up the decision-making process,"
"However, there are circumstances in which a naturally occurring emotional
response must be inhibited, so that a deliberate and potentially wiser decision
can be made."
The study, published in June in the journal Psychological Science, was conducted
by a team of researchers from Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University,
and the University of Iowa.