Scopic systems and decision making in financial markets


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In recent years, the impact of social media on human behavior has become the focus of a series of experimental and field studies across domains ranging from political behavior to intimate relationships. One area where social media has had considerable, yet overlooked impact is financial markets. Not only is data from social media routinely used now in financial decision making, but specialized media platforms have become integrated with financial trading and have attracted millions of users. These platforms, called social trading platforms (STPs), offer participants the possibility of permanent, real-time, reciprocal scrutiny of their decisions, of the outcomes of such decisions, and of their track record. With reference to previous ethnographic work, we call such platforms scopic systems, emphasizing the feature of permanent reciprocal scrutiny. In this chapter, we examine how scopic systems change the decision-making processes and the behavior of participants. Based on the analysis of large datasets of financial transactions from STPs, and comparing with a non-scopic trading environment, we argue that scopic systems, through constant and reciprocal scrutiny, induce changes in the behavior of individuals by placing them under a perpetual spotlight. At the same time, STPs create a stratified system, in which certain categories of participants adjust their behavior in such a way as to maintain their rank in the hierarchy. Overall, based on empirical analyses, we argue that participants in scopic systems amplify or adjust specific behavioral formats, but do not develop entirely new ones.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Neuroeconomics : Mechanistic Integration of the Neurosciences and the Social Sciences
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780429296918
ISBN (Print)9780367276164
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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