Strategic Mortgage Default and the Decision to Follow the Herd: A Neurological Explanation

38 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2012

See all articles by Michael Seiler

Michael Seiler

College of William and Mary - Finance

Eric Walden

Texas Tech University - Area of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS)

Mark Lane

Old Dominion University; Hawaii Pacific University - College of Business

Date Written: December 27, 2012

Abstract

This study is the first to examine strategic mortgage default and financial herding on a neurological level. Using fMRI technology, we identify a number of substrates within the brain that provide a neurobiological explanation for why some homeowners exercise their mortgage put option while others do not. We link the left interior parietal lobe to herding in participants who observe the default behavior of a maven (real estate expert). Alarmingly, homeowners only significantly follow the herd when mavens advocate strategic default, not when they recommend against it. In trials where the homeowner is severely underwater, the motor cortex and anterior cingulate cortex – a brain region particularly sensitive to situations where behavior may produce errors – show significantly more activation. Moreover, when faced with loan parameters that entice homeowners to indicate a willingness to strategically default, subjects show significant activation of their left lingual gyrus and motor cortex suggesting a greater level of self-reflection during the decision.

Keywords: neurological finance, forensic finance, fMRI, strategic mortgage default, herding

Suggested Citation

Seiler, Michael and Walden, Eric A. and Lane, Mark, Strategic Mortgage Default and the Decision to Follow the Herd: A Neurological Explanation (December 27, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2194254 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2194254

Michael Seiler (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary - Finance ( email )

VA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mason.wm.edu/faculty/directory/seiler_m.php

Eric A. Walden

Texas Tech University - Area of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS) ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States
806-742-1925 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ericwalden.net

Mark Lane

Old Dominion University ( email )

Norfolk, VA 23529-0222
United States

HOME PAGE: http://bpa.odu.edu/

Hawaii Pacific University - College of Business ( email )

Honolulu, HI 96813
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hpu.edu

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