Online Investors: Do the Slow Die First?

47 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2000

See all articles by Brad M. Barber

Brad M. Barber

University of California, Davis

Terrance Odean

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: December 1999


We examine changes in the stock trading behavior and investment performance of 1,607 investors who switch from phone based to online trading during the period 1992 to 1995. We document that young men who are active traders with high incomes and a preference for investing in small growth stocks with high market risk are more likely to switch to online trading. We also find that those who switch to online trading experience unusually strong performance prior to going online, beating the market by more than two percent annually. After going online, they trade more actively, more speculatively, and less profitably than before -- lagging the market by more than three percent annually. A rational response to reductions in market frictions (lower trading costs, improved execution speed, and greater ease of access) does not explain these findings. The increase in trading and reduction in performance of online investors can be explained by overconfidence augmented by self-attribution bias, the illusion of knowledge, and the illusion of control.

JEL Classification: G00, G12, G14

Suggested Citation

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Online Investors: Do the Slow Die First? (December 1999). EFA 0335, Available at SSRN: or

Brad M. Barber (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

Graduate School of Management
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-0512 (Phone)
530-752-2924 (Fax)

Terrance Odean

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-6767 (Phone)
510-666-2561 (Fax)


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