Put your head in the sand or lose a grand? : A natural experiment of the ostrich effect and the disposition effect

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Linköpings universitet/Nationalekonomi; Linköpings universitet/Nationalekonomi

Sammanfattning: This thesis presents an attempt to find evidence of the ostrich effect and the disposition effect, as well as individual differences in self-assessed financial knowledge and its effect on these biases. The ostrich effect refers to the tendency to deliberately avoid information that might be negative, by "sticking your head in the sand". The disposition effect refers to people who hold on to losing assets too long while selling winning ones too early. The two effects were examined through a natural experiment which emerged from the stock market crash that occurred February 5th, 2018. The data was collected during an internship at Länsförsäkringar AB and originates from the usage of Länsförsäkringar's application Sparnavigatorn, where customers can manage their savings. The customers login activity and number of placed sales orders were observed. The data material is unique, and the study enabled a unique presentation of real life behaviour within a financial context and an analysis of whether individual differences affect behaviour. To our knowledge, neither the ostrich effect nor the disposition effect have earlier been examined through a large scale natural experiment. The results show no significant indication of the ostrich effect, but rather a relatively constant login activity not affected by the stock market crash. Furthermore, they show a contradictory reaction to what the disposition effect suggests, meaning the respondents place more sales orders during the stock market fall than at the time before and after. The results imply that further research needs to be done to either reject or confirm the existence of the ostrich effect and the disposition effect.

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