The Role of Feelings in Investor Decision-Making



Abstract.  This paper surveys the research on the influence of investor feelings on equity pricing and also develops a theoretical basis with which to understand the emerging findings of this area. The theoretical basis is developed with reference to research in the fields of economic psychology and decision-making. Recent advancements in understanding how feelings affect the general decision-making of individuals, especially under conditions of risk and uncertainty [e.g. Loewenstein et al. (2001). Psychological Bulletin 127: 267–286], are covered by the review. The theoretical basis is applied to analyze the existing research on investor feelings [e.g. Kamstra et al. (2000). American Economic Review (forthcoming); Hirshleifer and Shumway (2003). Journal of Finance 58 (3): 1009–1032]. This research can be broadly described as investigating whether variations in feelings that are widely experienced by people influence investor decision-making and, consequently, lead to predictable patterns in equity pricing. The paper concludes by suggesting a number of directions for future empirical and theoretical research.