Mon Sep 19, 2:45 PM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - "Wanted: psychopaths to make a killing in the markets."
Such an advert will not be appearing in the world's newspapers any time soon, but it may have a ring of truth after research revealed the best wheeler-dealers could well be "functional psychopaths."
A team of U.S. scientists has found the emotionally impaired are more willing to gamble for high stakes and that people with brain damage may make good financial decisions, the Times newspaper reported Monday.
In a study of investors' behavior 41 people with normal IQs were asked to play a simple investment game. Fifteen of the group had suffered lesions on the areas of the brain that affect emotions.
The result was those with brain damage outperformed those without.
The scientists found emotions led some of the group to avoid risks even when the potential benefits far outweighed the losses, a phenomenon known as myopic loss aversion.
One of the researchers, Antione Bechara, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, said the best stock market investors might plausibly be called "functional psychopaths."
Fellow author, Baba Shiv of Stanford Graduate School of Business said many company chiefs and top lawyers may also show they share the same trait.
"Emotions serve an adaptive role in speeding up the decision-making process," said Shiv.
"However, there are circumstances in which a naturally occurring emotional response must be inhibited, so that a deliberate and potentially wiser decision can be made."
The study, published in June in the journal Psychological Science, was conducted by a team of researchers from Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Iowa.