Aug

29

For those who trade frequently throughout the day — if your late day buy and sell choices tend to prove less profitable, there may be a good reason…. check out this article "Do You Suffer From Decision Making Fatigue?"

No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy.

Willpower turned out to be more than a folk concept or a metaphor. It really was a form of mental energy that could be exhausted. The experiments confirmed the 19th-century notion of willpower being like a muscle that was fatigued with use, a force that could be conserved by avoiding temptation….Part of the resistance against making decisions comes from our fear of giving up options.

Ken Drees writes:

I attended a mental toughness seminar once from a sports psychologist/ business executive improvement guru. At the end of the seminar when we were worn down he talked about diet and how levels of glucose dropped during the day, etc. Thats when he pulled out his product line of carb tabs — little wafers that would boost your levels without a lot of calories — needless to say we got some free samples and the order form was passed around and there was psychology 101 all over the room as no one wanted to not buy for fear of being a loner, and those that were worn down said what the heck, lets give it a try. You had your excited female buyers as the whip for the tired guys to give it a try, what can you lose — come on be mentally tough and make a decision to change your life. So that is what is in those cardboard boxes at the back of the room — carbo tabs. This was before Adkins so there was no anti-carb thinking back then.

A snippet from the article:

The benefits of glucose were unmistakable in the study of the Israeli parole board. In midmorning, usually a little before 10:30, the parole board would take a break, and the judges would be served a sandwich and a piece of fruit. The prisoners who appeared just before the break had only about a 20 percent chance of getting parole, but the ones appearing right after had around a 65 percent chance. The odds dropped again as the morning wore on, and prisoners really didn’t want to appear just before lunch: the chance of getting parole at that time was only 10 percent. After lunch it soared up to 60 percent, but only briefly. Remember that Jewish Israeli prisoner who appeared at 3:10 p.m. and was denied parole from his sentence for assault? He had the misfortune of being the sixth case heard after lunch. But another Jewish Israeli prisoner serving the same sentence for the same crime was lucky enough to appear at 1:27 p.m., the first case after lunch, and he was rewarded with parole. It must have seemed to him like a fine example of the justice system at work, but it probably had more to do with the judge’s glucose levels.


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  1. Nigel Davies on August 30, 2011 1:21 am

    This tallies with my chess experience, players become fatigued during tournaments making multiple decisions in each game, day after day. But the capacity for doing so increases with experience as many of them become ‘automatic’, typical scenarios in which a certain type of move is known to be the best.

    This would also be the case with strong and experienced traders who have their market approach well worked out. But for relative newcomers it could spell disaster.

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