A Survey of Behavioral Finance

A Survey of Behavioral Finance.

Nicholas BarberisRichard Thaler

NBER Working Paper No. 9222
Issued in September 2002
NBER Program(s):   AP CF

Behavioral finance argues that some financial phenomena can plausibly be understood using models in which some agents are not fully rational. The field has two building blocks: limits to arbitrage, which argues that it can be difficult for rational traders to undo the dislocations caused by less rational traders; and psychology, which catalogues the kinds of deviations from full rationality we might expect to see. We discuss these two topics, and then present a number of behavioral finance applications: to the aggregate stock market, to the cross-section of average returns, to individual trading behavior, and to corporate finance. We close by assessing progress in the field and speculating about its future course.

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