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“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change when necessary.” – Albert Einstein

In both the financial and dental industries, human nature often introduces biases that cloud judgment and lead to suboptimal decisions. Understanding these biases and adopting strategies to mitigate their impact is crucial for success and growth.

What Is Behavioral Finance?

Behavioral finance, a subfield of behavioral economics, proposes that psychological influences and biases affect the financial behaviors of investors and financial practitioners. It suggests that these influences can explain various market anomalies, including severe rises or falls in stock prices. The Securities and Exchange Commission even has staff specifically focused on behavioral finance.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Behavioral finance focuses on how psychological influences affect market outcomes.
  • It can be analyzed to understand different outcomes across various sectors and industries.
  • The influence of psychological biases is a key aspect of behavioral finance studies.
  • Common behavioral financial aspects include loss aversion, consensus bias, and familiarity tendencies.
  • The efficient market theory is often criticized for not incorporating irrational emotional behavior.

Understanding Behavioral Finance

Behavioral finance can be analyzed from various perspectives to understand why people make certain financial choices and how those choices can affect markets, including the dental market. It assumes that financial participants are not perfectly rational but influenced by psychological tendencies. As an investor’s overall health changes, their decision-making and rationality towards finance also shift.

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Behavioral Finance Concepts

Behavioral finance typically encompasses five main concepts for dentistry:

  1. Mental accounting: The propensity for dentists to allocate money for specific purposes. For example, dentists who compartmentalise treatments as per specialities and allocate money as per their interest in the specialty.
  2. Herd behavior: Dentists tend to mimic the financial behaviors of the majority, leading to dramatic rallies and sell-offs in the stock market. For example, buying a particular dental product or material because peers are doing so.
  3. Emotional gap: Decision-making based on extreme emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, or excitement. For example, buying an expensive dental product out of excitement, or unnecessary armamentarium out of fear
  4. Anchoring: Attaching a spending level to a certain reference, like a budget. For example, buying a product only if it is under a certain budget
  5. Self-attribution: Making choices based on overconfidence in one’s own knowledge or skill. For example, investing heavily after completing a one day CDE course.

Some Biases Revealed by Behavioral Finance: Terms a Dentist Should Know

Confirmation Bias

Dentists tend to accept information that confirms their existing beliefs, even if the information is flawed.

Experiential Bias

Dentists’ memory of recent events can bias them to believe similar events are more likely to occur, known as recency or availability bias.

Loss Aversion

Dentists prioritize avoiding losses over making gains, leading to the disposition effect where they sell winners and hold onto losers.

Familiarity Bias

Dentists tend to invest in what they know, leading to lack of diversification across different sectors, field and financially, in the types of investments.

Behavioral Finance in the Stock Market

The efficient market hypothesis (EMH) posits that stock prices are efficiently valued based on all available information. However, behavioral finance suggests that markets are not fully efficient and psychological and social factors influence stock buying and selling.

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What Does Behavioral Finance Tell Us?

Behavioral finance helps us understand how financial decisions are greatly influenced by human emotion, biases, and cognitive limitations.

How Does Behavioral Finance Differ From Mainstream Financial Theory?

Mainstream financial theory assumes people are rational, free from emotion, and self-interested utility maximizers, while behavioral finance counters these assumptions.

How Does Knowing About Behavioral Finance Help?

Understanding deviations from rational expectations provides a blueprint to make better financial decisions.

Understanding Behavioral Biases in Investment and Dentistry: Overcoming Overconfidence and Miscommunication

1. Confirmation Bias

Description:
Confirmation bias refers to the tendency of individuals to seek out and give more weight to information that confirms their existing beliefs, while disregarding evidence that contradicts them.

Impact on Investment and Dentistry:
Investors influenced by confirmation bias may overlook critical information that challenges their views, leading to a narrow and potentially flawed strategy. Similarly, dentists may disregard patient feedback or alternative treatment options that do not align with their established beliefs, affecting patient care and outcomes.

Mitigation Strategy:
Actively seek out diverse sources of information, consider alternative viewpoints, and change routines to break the cycle of confirmation bias.

2. Memory Bias

Description:
Memory bias involves selectively recalling recent events over past ones, often leading to an overemphasis on short-term outcomes.

Impact on Investment and Dentistry:
Investors and dentists prone to memory bias may make impulsive decisions based on recent experiences, disregarding long-term goals and strategies.

Mitigation Strategy:
Maintain a long-term perspective, regularly review objectives, and focus on overall performance rather than isolated events.

3. Loss Aversion

Description:
Loss aversion is the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains, often leading to risk-averse behavior.

Impact on Investment and Dentistry:
Investors and dentists driven by loss aversion may shy away from potentially beneficial opportunities due to an exaggerated fear of negative outcomes. Referred to as ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ behaviour, sometimes bearing a small loss now is necessary for a high profit later.

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Mitigation Strategy:
Strive to maintain a balanced perspective on risks and rewards, focusing on long-term objectives rather than short-term fluctuations.

4. Egocentric Bias

Description:
Egocentric bias involves overestimating one’s own abilities and knowledge while underestimating the contributions of others.

Impact on Investment and Dentistry:
Investors and dentists influenced by egocentric bias may rely too heavily on their own judgment, neglecting valuable insights from professionals or overlooking potential risks and alternative solutions.

“Every investor’s biggest problem and worst enemy is himself,” says Benjamin Graham, an economist considered the father of value investing. Overconfidence is a prevalent behavioral bias in both investment and dentistry. Investors and dentists often have too much faith in their abilities, considering themselves better than they are and often end up facing negative consequences.

Mitigation Strategy:
Open communication and collaboration with professionals can help gain a more balanced perspective and make more informed decisions. Acknowledging and learning from past mistakes is essential for personal and professional growth.

Review your trading or treatment data objectively. Ask questions like, “Why did I make that decision?” Identifying behavioral patterns can help correct mistakes and improve decision-making.

5. Intergroup Bias

Description:
Intergroup bias refers to the tendency to favor members of one’s own group over outsiders, often leading to stereotypes and prejudices.

Impact on Investment and Dentistry:
In the context of finance and dentistry, intergroup bias can lead individuals to favor familiar or domestic opportunities while overlooking opportunities in diverse markets or alternative treatment options.

Mitigation Strategy:
Promote diversity and inclusivity in strategies, and diversify across different markets, industries, and asset classes to enhance resilience and potential returns.

Conclusion

Understanding and recognizing behavioral biases and the impact of miscommunication is the first step towards mitigating their impact in both investment and dentistry. By adopting strategies to counteract these biases, fostering open communication, and leveraging available resources, individuals and dental practices can make more objective, informed, and successful decisions, leading to better outcomes and growth in their respective fields.

 

 

Author

Dr Rockson BDS, PgDM, DBM (Germany) & Awarded Content Marketeer of the year 2020 & Love telling story for brands.

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