For your Tuesday morning amusement: study says securities traders more reckless than psychopaths

News Brief

By Cydney Posner

With rogue traders once again in the news (with the arrest of a UBS trader for allegedly squandering $2.3 billion in a criminal trading scheme, taking the UBS CEO down with him), here comes a new study that concludes that stock traders "behave more recklessly and are more manipulative than psychopaths."

Researchers at the University of St. Gallen, a Swiss research university, "measured the readiness to cooperate and the egotism of 28 professional traders who took part in computer simulations and intelligence tests. The results, compared with the behavior of psychopaths, exceeded the expectations of the study's co-authors," a forensic expert and a prison administrator. The prison administrator refused to go so far as to characterize the traders as "deranged," but did conclude that "they behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test." The biggest surprise for the co-author was "the fact that the bankers weren't aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group. Instead they were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage. Instead of taking a sober and businesslike approach to reaching the highest profit, ‘it was most important to the traders to get more than their opponents [and] they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents.' " The prison administrator observed that "the stockbrokers behaved as though their neighbor had the same car, ‘and they took after it with a baseball bat so they could look better themselves.' "

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