Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 15 July 2016

We met at our usual venue but on this occasion in the very spacious function room as the conservatory room was needed at short notice for another purpose. The report on the last meeting was read then we had a very wide ranging discussion on the psychological factors that might be playing a role in topical issues such as the EU referendum or in matters to do with our previous careers. One advantage of U3A meetings seems to be that members can have interesting discussions and debates that are both relevant to the group’s aims and draw on past work or personal experiences that are refreshingly unfamiliar to others present.

We then returned to our specific agenda which was to continue to look at decision making with particular reference to the psychology of financial decisions. This area has long been a matter of sometimes bitter dispute between psychologists and what are often seen as the proponents of classical capitalist economics. To these people the thought processes involved can simply be thought of as the rational and predictable pursuit of personal gain by individuals which when operating collectively produce predictable market forces whose operations can be modelled by complex equations and computer programs. Behavioural economists, however, insist that financial behaviour can be shown to be far from rational being driven in important ways by factors that market economists simply do not take into account. This results, they claim, in both personal and market financial behaviour being potentially unstable and unpredictable.

To inform ourselves about these two opposing views, which are relevant in some way to most people at the moment, we began watching a documentary called, ‘The Phenomenon of Money and Human Psychology’. From the beginning this programme looked to be very interesting bur unfortunately we ran out of time and agreed to complete our viewing at the next meeting. This has been booked for Friday 19th August between 2 and 4pm at The Owl Hotel in Hambleton and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible then.

John Moore – Group Leader
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