Theory and Decision

, Volume 31, Issue 2–3, pp 257–287 | Cite as

Nonrational actors and financial market behavior

  • Richard Zeckhauser
  • Jayendu Patel
  • Darryll Hendricks


The insights of descriptive decision theorists and psychologists, we believe, have much to contribute to our understanding of financial market macrophenomena. We propose an analytic agenda that distinguishes those individual idiosyncrasies that prove consequential at the macro-level from those that are neutralized by market processes such as poaching. We discuss five behavioral traits — barn-door closing, expert/reliance effects, status quo bias, framing, and herding — that we employ in explaining financial flows. Patterns in flows to mutual funds, to new equities, across national boundaries, as well as movements in debt-equity ratios are shown to be consistent with deviations from rationality.


financial market decision theory behavioral decision financial flows rationality herd behavior 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Zeckhauser
    • 1
  • Jayendu Patel
    • 1
  • Darryll Hendricks
    • 1
  1. 1.John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard UniversityHarvardUSA

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