NEVER JUDGE A DECISION BY ITS OUTCOME – Outcome Bias

As an experiment, We prepare different chits and write down different stocks name on those piece of paper. Then we give it to different monkeys to pick it for a week. Few come out as a winner and few as losers. We continue playing the same with winners only. Over some time, one monkey comes as a right in all the time. The media calls that monkey a successful monkey and call everyone to understand his success mantra.

This is an outcome bias; we tend to evaluate decisions based on the result rather than on the decision process. When a person has a good performance track record of stocks picking then we consider him as a good stock picker or an expert rather than knowing the process or it can be possible that past results can be due to pure luck. I met few fund managers who do not read books or annual reports thoroughly but they have survived for 10-12 years so people call them successful and an expert.

In conclusion: never judge a decision purely by its result, especially when randomness or ‘external factors’ play a role. A bad result does not automatically indicate a bad decision and vice versa. So rather than tearing your hair out about a wrong decision, or applauding yourself for one that may have only coincidentally led to success, remember why you chose? what you did?. When we start understanding the process behind success, then we can easily recognize success as a part of luck or efforts.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.

THE DUBIOUS EFFICACY OF DOCTORS, CONSULTANTS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS -Regression to Mean

Everything in a world moves toward an extreme direction from average and come back to average. This is known as a regression to mean. Sometimes we get more happy or sad and as time passes, we start coming back to our normal feelings. We tend to be nice to other people when they please us and nasty when they do not, we are statistically punished for being nice and rewarded for being nasty.

Poor performance was typically followed by improvement and good performance by deterioration, without any help from either praise or punishment. Our performance has an average point, sometimes we perform very better than average and sometimes perform below average and sometimes reach back to mean performance. So that when performance is above or below average, then it has a higher probability to meet the average which is known as a regression to the mean.

Investment – The price of the companies sometimes go either extreme to fundamental points but as time passes stock prices start moving towards fundamental performance and at some point fundamental performance and stock prices marched. The stock price cannot be sustained at either extreme. We have seen various cyclical events, business cycle and many more are responsible for the regression to the mean. We have experienced that market always walk away from averages for a period but it comes near to mean by its self-correcting nature. So that when anything moves at the extreme side of the mean then we must have to be ready for self-correction of it. Value investing mainly focus on reversion to mean theory. It believes that if the stock price is well below its fundamental value then now or later it will catch up with its fundamental value.

We have seen that the best performance in equities has come after the worst performance and vice-versa. So that we should not focus on a smaller period of outcome to make any conclusion. Rather should focus on a decently long period to understand mean reversion. But when fundamental performance is improving then we should compare market price with improving fundamental performance rather should wait to fall in price as it has risen in past. Also, we need to study thoroughly about fundamental of any business, its prospects, challenges faced by the business. Rather believing that if the business has performed well in past then it will repeat it in future. It may or may not repeat the same performance but that we have to conclude from a detail study of business.

This entire series will be review with various examples from books which are Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Art of Thinking Clearly.

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