EFIM30062 Behavioural Finance UOB Assignment Answer UK

EFIM30062: Behavioural Finance course explore the fascinating field of behavioural finance, which combines insights from psychology and economics to provide a deeper understanding of how individuals and markets make financial decisions. Traditional finance theory assumes that investors are rational, calculating beings who make decisions based on perfect information and aim to maximize their wealth. However, empirical evidence suggests that real-world investors often deviate from these idealized assumptions. Behavioural finance seeks to explain these deviations by examining the influence of cognitive biases, emotions, and social factors on financial decision-making.

Throughout this course, we will delve into the various psychological factors that affect financial choices, such as overconfidence, loss aversion, herding behavior, and anchoring. We will explore how these biases can lead to market inefficiencies, bubbles, and crashes. Additionally, we will discuss the implications of behavioural finance for investment strategies, asset pricing models, and portfolio management.

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Assignment Brief 1: Critically review the Efficient markets hypothesis and associated empirical irregularities.

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH) is a theory that suggests financial markets are efficient in reflecting all available information, making it impossible to consistently achieve above-average returns through active trading or by exploiting mispriced securities. While the EMH has been influential in shaping modern finance, it has also faced criticism and has been associated with several empirical irregularities. Let’s examine both aspects in more detail.

Advantages of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis:

  1. Information Efficiency: The EMH highlights the speed and accuracy with which financial markets incorporate new information into asset prices. It argues that any publicly available information is already factored into market prices, making it difficult for investors to gain an informational advantage.
  2. Rational Investor Behavior: The EMH assumes that investors act rationally by making unbiased decisions based on available information. This assumption contributes to market efficiency as it implies that prices reflect the collective wisdom of market participants.
  3. Active Management Challenges: The EMH suggests that it is challenging for active fund managers to consistently outperform the market since securities are fairly priced, leaving little room for superior returns after accounting for transaction costs and fees.

Empirical Irregularities and Criticisms:

  1. Market Bubbles and Crashes: Critics argue that the occurrence of market bubbles, such as the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s or the housing bubble in the 2000s, undermines the EMH. These events suggest that market prices can deviate significantly from fundamental values, indicating that markets may not always be efficient.
  2. Behavioral Biases: The EMH assumes rational investor behavior, but behavioral finance research highlights various cognitive biases that can lead to irrational decision-making. These biases, such as overconfidence or herding behavior, can result in market inefficiencies and mispricings.
  3. Anomalies and Excess Returns: Empirical studies have identified certain anomalies that contradict the EMH. For example, the momentum effect, where stocks that have performed well in the past tend to continue performing well, challenges the notion of efficient markets.
  4. Insider Trading: The EMH assumes that all available information is quickly and accurately reflected in market prices. However, cases of insider trading reveal instances where individuals have profited from non-public information, suggesting that markets may not be perfectly efficient.

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Assignment Brief 2: Explain how heuristics lead to systematic biases.

Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts or mental rules of thumb that we use to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently. They help us simplify complex information and navigate the world with limited time and cognitive resources. While heuristics can be helpful in many situations, they can also lead to systematic biases or errors in judgment. Here’s an explanation of how heuristics can lead to such biases:

  1. Availability Heuristic: This heuristic involves estimating the likelihood of an event based on how easily examples or instances come to mind. We tend to overestimate the probability of events that are more vivid or memorable, or that have recently occurred. For example, if we hear news reports about a series of shark attacks, we might overestimate the likelihood of a shark attack when going to the beach. This bias can lead to irrational fears or exaggerated perceptions of risk.
  2. Representativeness Heuristic: This heuristic involves judging the probability or category membership of an event or object based on how similar it is to a prototype or stereotype. We tend to rely on preconceived notions or stereotypes rather than considering the actual statistical probabilities. For example, if we encounter someone who fits our stereotype of a “computer geek,” we might assume they work in the tech industry, even though the person could be a musician or a lawyer. This bias can lead to inaccurate judgments and stereotyping.
  3. Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic: This heuristic involves making estimates or judgments by starting from an initial value (anchor) and then adjusting it based on additional information. The problem arises when the initial anchor is arbitrary or irrelevant but still influences our final judgment. For example, when negotiating a price for a car, if the seller starts with a very high price, our final offer may still be higher than if the seller had started with a lower anchor. This bias can lead to inadequate adjustments and suboptimal decisions.
  4. Confirmation Bias: Although not strictly a heuristic, confirmation bias is a related cognitive bias that can result from the use of heuristics. It refers to the tendency to seek, interpret, and remember information that confirms our preexisting beliefs or hypotheses while disregarding or downplaying contradictory information. When using heuristics, we often focus on information that supports our initial judgments and ignore evidence that challenges them. This bias can reinforce our existing beliefs and hinder rational decision-making.

These are just a few examples of how heuristics can lead to systematic biases. By understanding these biases, we can become more aware of our own thinking processes and strive to make more rational and objective decisions by actively challenging and verifying our assumptions and judgments.

Assignment Brief 3: Apply an understanding of systematic biases to show how they can be exploited to make profits in financial markets.

Systematic biases refer to the consistent patterns of irrationality or cognitive shortcuts that individuals exhibit when making decisions. These biases can be exploited in financial markets to potentially make profits. Here are a few examples of how systematic biases can be leveraged for financial gain:

  1. Overconfidence Bias: Many investors tend to overestimate their abilities and believe they have more knowledge or skill than they actually possess. This bias can lead them to take excessive risks or make overly optimistic predictions about stock prices. Exploiting this bias, sophisticated investors can take advantage of overconfident traders by strategically selling overvalued assets or providing them with false information to create a market imbalance.
  2. Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to seek and interpret information that confirms pre-existing beliefs while ignoring or dismissing contradictory evidence. In financial markets, investors may selectively focus on news or data that aligns with their expectations, leading to a distorted perception of the market. Exploiting this bias, traders can manipulate public sentiment or disseminate biased research to influence the market in their favor.
  3. Herding Bias: Herding bias occurs when individuals follow the actions or decisions of others instead of independently analyzing information. In financial markets, this can result in the formation of speculative bubbles or market crashes. Exploiting herding bias, savvy traders can strategically initiate or exploit trends, creating momentum in certain stocks or assets. They can then exit positions before the bubble bursts, profiting from the herd’s actions.
  4. Loss Aversion Bias: Loss aversion bias refers to the tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring equivalent gains. Investors often feel the pain of losses more acutely than the pleasure of equivalent gains. Exploiting this bias, traders can induce fear or panic among investors, leading to panic selling and market downturns. By strategically short-selling or buying assets at a discounted price during such downturns, they can profit when the market eventually stabilizes.
  5. Anchoring Bias: Anchoring bias occurs when individuals rely too heavily on the initial piece of information they receive when making decisions. In financial markets, this bias can lead investors to anchor their expectations or valuations based on arbitrary reference points. Exploiting this bias, traders can manipulate market sentiment by skillfully influencing the initial information or providing biased price targets, causing others to anchor their decisions accordingly.

It’s important to note that while these biases can be exploited for financial gain, such practices may be unethical or even illegal. Regulations and oversight exist in financial markets to prevent manipulative behaviors and protect investors from unfair practices.

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Assignment Brief 4: Evaluate the appropriateness of behavioural assumptions in different contexts.

Behavioural assumptions are fundamental beliefs or predictions about how individuals or groups will behave in certain contexts. The appropriateness of these assumptions depends on various factors, including the specific context, the purpose of the analysis, and the available evidence. Here are some considerations when evaluating the appropriateness of behavioural assumptions in different contexts:

  1. Economic Context: In economics, behavioural assumptions are often made to simplify complex interactions and predict economic outcomes. The appropriateness of these assumptions can vary depending on the specific economic context being studied. For example, assuming individuals are rational decision-makers with perfect information may be appropriate when studying market behavior. However, in the context of behavioral economics, which incorporates insights from psychology, more realistic assumptions about bounded rationality and biases may be necessary for accurate predictions.
  2. Social Science Context: In social science research, behavioural assumptions are often used to understand human behavior and its impact on society. The appropriateness of these assumptions depends on the research question and the evidence supporting them. Researchers should consider the validity and generalizability of the assumptions based on empirical data and theories. It is important to recognize the diversity and individual differences in behavior and avoid making overly simplistic assumptions that do not capture the complexity of social phenomena.
  3. Policy-making Context: When behavioral assumptions are used in policy-making, their appropriateness becomes crucial. Policies are often designed to influence or change behavior, and accurate assumptions are essential for effective policy implementation. Policy-makers should consider evidence from behavioral sciences, such as psychology and sociology, to inform their assumptions. They should also be open to updating assumptions based on feedback, evaluation, and new evidence to ensure policies are adaptive and responsive.
  4. Cultural Context: Behavioral assumptions can be influenced by cultural factors. What may be considered appropriate behavior in one culture may not be the same in another. It is important to be mindful of cultural diversity and avoid generalizations or assumptions that may be biased or ethnocentric. Understanding cultural norms and values is crucial to accurately predicting behavior in different cultural contexts.
  5. Individual Context: Individual differences play a significant role in behavior, and assumptions should consider this variability. People have diverse backgrounds, personalities, motivations, and experiences that influence their behavior. Therefore, assumptions that treat all individuals as homogeneous may not accurately capture the complexity of human behavior. Considering individual context and accounting for variations within a population can lead to more accurate predictions.

Assignment Brief 5: Compare and contrast the role of behavioural and rational theories to explain observed outcomes in corporate finance.


Behavioural and rational theories are two distinct approaches that are often used to explain observed outcomes in corporate finance. While rational theories assume that individuals are fully rational and make decisions based on logical reasoning and perfect information, behavioural theories take into account the limitations and biases of human decision-making. Let’s compare and contrast the role of these theories in explaining outcomes in corporate finance:


  • Rational theories: Rational theories assume that individuals are perfectly rational, have complete information, and can process this information to make optimal decisions. They assume that individuals maximize their utility or wealth.
  • Behavioural theories: Behavioural theories acknowledge that individuals are subject to cognitive biases and limitations, such as overconfidence, anchoring, and loss aversion. They assume that decision-making is influenced by psychological factors and that individuals may not always make rational choices.

Decision-Making Process:

  • Rational theories: Rational theories suggest that individuals go through a systematic decision-making process, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of different options. They assume that individuals are capable of accurately assessing risks and probabilities.
  • Behavioural theories: Behavioural theories recognize that decision-making is often influenced by emotions, social pressures, and heuristics. Individuals may rely on mental shortcuts or rules of thumb to make decisions, which can lead to biases and suboptimal outcomes.

Market Efficiency:

  • Rational theories: Rational theories, such as the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), propose that financial markets are efficient and prices reflect all available information. Investors in these theories are assumed to be rational and make decisions based on the available information and market prices.
  • Behavioural theories: Behavioural theories challenge the assumption of market efficiency by highlighting the presence of psychological biases that can lead to mispricing and market inefficiencies. These biases can cause deviations from the fundamental value of assets, resulting in market anomalies that can be exploited by investors.

Investor Behaviour:

  • Rational theories: Rational theories assume that investors are primarily motivated by maximizing their wealth and make decisions based on rational analysis of risk and return. They assume that investors are aware of their own preferences and consistently act in their own best interests.
  • Behavioural theories: Behavioural theories emphasize that investors are influenced by psychological biases and may deviate from rational decision-making. For example, investors may exhibit herd behavior, follow the crowd, or engage in irrational exuberance during market booms and irrational panic during market downturns.

Corporate Decision-Making:

  • Rational theories: Rational theories assume that corporations make decisions that maximize shareholder value. They assume that firms evaluate investment opportunities based on discounted cash flow analysis, cost-benefit analysis, and risk assessment. Rational theories also assume that managers act as agents of shareholders and make decisions consistent with shareholder interests.
  • Behavioural theories: Behavioural theories recognize that managerial decision-making can be influenced by biases and social factors. For example, managers may be overconfident about the success of their projects, engage in empire building, or be influenced by social norms and peer pressure. These factors can lead to suboptimal decisions and outcomes for the firm.

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