The science of ‘herd mentality’

Why your brain wants you to follow the crowd.

  • What can monkeys teach us about stock market bubbles? It turns out that monkeys make decisions much like investors on the trading floor—they develop a herd mentality, mimicking the behavior of others until overinflation and the eventual pop.
  • "This tendency to follow the herd emerges from our social brain networks," explains Michael Platt, professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. This network allows us to learn and adapt based on information from those around us. But these learnings are not always positive.
  • In the context of money and the stock market, following the herd could result in bad financial decisions. The key, Platt says, is learning to take a step back and resist impulses, which in some ways goes against our evolution and the way our brains work. "There's a trade off between speed and accuracy in decision-making," he says. "If we could slow people down, that would allow more evidence to accumulate, and they're more likely to make a better decision."

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In this Dutch town, the euro’s fictional bridges are now real

The European currency features buildings that didn't exist, until Spijkenisse made them in concrete

Credit: Google Maps, ECB (Graphics: Ruland Kolen)
  • The euro banknotes feature seven different bridges – all of them fictional.
  • They represent periods instead of places, so as not to offend anyone.
  • But one Dutch town has turned monetary fiction into monumental fact.
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Learn the fundamentals of financial accounting from an actual CPA

Understand everything that goes behind payroll, debits, credits, and more with this 25-hour course collection.

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Bitcoin and blockchain 101: Why the future will be decentralized

A crash course in the history of money, the birth of Bitcoin, and blockchain technology.

  • We've all heard terms like Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrency being thrown around in the past few years, but what do they mean? Consider this your crash course.
  • Experts from across the spectrum of money and tech provide a history of commerce dating back tens of thousands of years, explain what blockchain and Bitcoin are and how they work, and offer insights into the differences between centralized and decentralized systems.
  • Because blockchain is incredibly difficult to hack, it has massive implications for elections, banking, shipping, land ownership—any domain where corruption is rampant. While the technology may feel abstract now, programmer Brian Behlendorf compares it to explaining the concept of email to people in 1993. One day, blockchain will be a seamless part of our lives.
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Money impacts happiness more than previously thought, study finds

A new study casts doubt on previous research showing that emotional well-being plateaus at an income of $75,000 per year.

Credit: Alexander Mils on Unsplash
  • A new study examined how income affects experienced and evaluative well-being, which are two measures researchers commonly use to evaluate happiness.
  • The results showed that both evaluative and experienced well-being tend to increase alongside income.
  • Still, the results don't suggest you should assign more importance to money, or tie your ideas of personal success to it.
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