Don’t listen to a word I have to say

When you listen to a financial expert’s advice, your brain turns off.

This revelation came through Jason Zweig, who writes for the Wall Street Journal. In Zweig’s blog, he highlighted a recent study by Dr. Gregory Berns of Emory University.

In Dr. Berns study, he watched how people’s brain responded to inputs using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. Specifically, he monitored blood flow to different parts of the brain of test subjects.

When subjects thought for themselves, two parts of their brain activated: one for determining the payoff of a sure win in the scenario presented, and one for calculating the possible gain from such a gamble.

Then, they did the same experiment, but with an “expert” with impressive sounding credentials. When that happened, the subject’s brain activity faded. In other words, once the expert started suggesting, the subject’s brain when into resting mode, “off-loading” the task of making the decision to the supposed “expert.”

It seems obvious to me that not everyone falls for this gag, but, it’s good to be aware of it.

I know I’ve paid for car maintenance I didn’t need because I tried to make a decision too quickly in the presence of an “expert,” so I feel keenly how easy it is to fall for such a trap.

How do you avoid “off-loading?”

Zweig suggests speaking to “experts” with a list of your concerns or the direction you’d like to go thought out and written down ahead of time. This will give you something to refer to when you’re talking to an “expert.”

Another thing he suggests is to make the decision later, after you’ve had a chance to think about it on your own. This lets you regain independence and get that blood flowing to the payout and gain portions of your brain.

There’s nothing wrong with listening to investing advice, but doing so without the right approach may lead you to do something you’ll regret.

So, listen to my advice, but turn it over in your mind on your own, think about what you thought beforehand, and give yourself some time before acting or deciding.

I always recommend this to my clients, too, because I’ve found I’d rather have happy clients for the long run than tricked clients that soon figure they aren’t happy with my approach. In the long run, the truth will out.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.