The human mind: winning, losing, and opportunity cost - Aussie Stock Forums

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  1. #1

    Default The human mind: winning, losing, and opportunity cost

    I've always been interested in psychology and the human mind, and in particular with reference to how we process "winning" and "losing" when it comes to gambling. And I use the term 'gambling' loosely, to include trading on speculative stocks (but if you disagree, please note that is not the point of this thread).

    I have read somewhere that gambling has the same effect on the mind as drugs in terms of addictiveness. I also read that losing has a much bigger impact on the brain than winning the equivalent amount. So for example, losing $100 will have a bigger negative impact on the mind than the positive impact on the mind if $100 was won.

    Leading on from this point, it makes me wonder why gamblers, and probably the rest of us in general, can't appreciate the opposite of "opportunity cost"? By this I mean, why can't they think "if I don't place a bet, I will have saved $100" or "I could've lost $100 but I didn't".

    I'll try to illustrate my point with a further example. The parents of a friend's friend used to buy lotto tickets every week using the same numbers. This was about 15 years ago. One week they forgot to buy a ticket, and lo and behold, the winning numbers were exactly the ones they normally buy. To this day, the parents still bicker and fight over this.

    Conversely, let's say you were crossing the road one day and nearly got hit by an out of control car. For the rest of that day, and maybe that week, you might keep reminding yourself that you're lucky to be alive and to appreciate and be grateful for everything you have in life. But 15 years later would you still be feeling the same way? I somehow doubt it. And yet for those parents in the first example, the "opportunity cost" is still on their minds 15 years later.

    I'm just very curious about the way the brain processes a "win" and a "loss" differently, even if a "win" may be construed as a near miss.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this topic?
    For a few men to be rich, many men must be poor.

  2. #2

    Default Re: The human mind: winning, losing, and opportunity cost

    If you're interested, you might want to check out James Montier's work in the field of behavioural investing. It's very interesting


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