This tendency was not in any of the psychology texts I once examined, at least in any coherent fashion, yet it dominates life. It accounts for the extreme result in the Milgram experiment and the extreme success of some cults that have stumbled through practice evolution into bringing pressure from many psychological tendencies to bear at the same time on conversion targets. The targets vary in susceptibility, like the dogs Pavlov worked with in his old age, but some of the minds that are targeted simply snap into zombiedom under cult pressure. Indeed, that is one cult’s name for the conversion phenomenon: snapping.
What are we to make of the extreme ignorance of the psychology textbook writers of yesteryear? How could anyone who had taken a freshman course in physics or chemistry not be driven to consider, above all, how psychological tendencies combine and with what effects? Why would anyone think his study of psychology was adequate without his having endured the complexity involved in dealing with intertwined psychological tendencies? What could be more ironic than professors using oversimplified notions while studying bad cognitive effects grounded in the mind’s tendency to use oversimplified algorithms?
I will make a few tentative suggestions. Maybe many of the long-dead professors wanted to create a whole science from one narrow type of repeatable psychology experiment that was conductible in a university setting and that aimed at one psychological tendency at a time. If so, these early psychology professors made a massive error in so restricting their approach to their subject. It would be like physics ignoring astrophysics because it couldn’t happen in a physics lab, plus all compound effects. What psychological tendencies could account for early psychology professors adopting an over-restricted approach to their own subject matter? One candidate would be Availability-Misweighing Tendency grounded in a preference for easy-to-control data. And then the restrictions would eventually create an extreme case of man with a hammer tendency. Another candidate might be Envy/jealousy Tendency through which early psychology professors displayed some weird form of envy of a physics that was misunderstood_ And this possibility tends to demonstrate that leaving envy/jealousy out of academic psychology was never a good idea. I now quit claim of all these historical mysteries to my betters.
I place this tendency first in my discussion because almost everyone thinks he fully recognizes how important incentives and disincentives are in changing cognition and behavior. But this is not often so. For instance, I think I’ve been in the top five percent of my age cohort almost all my adult life in understanding the power of incentives, and yet I’ve always underestimated that power. Never a year passes but I get some surprise that pushes a little further my appreciation of incentive superpower.
One of my favorite cases about the power of incentives is the Federal Express case. The integrity of the Federal Express system requires that all packages be shifted rapidly among airplanes in one central airport each night. And the system has no integrity for the customers if the night work shift can’t accomplish its assignment fast. And Federal Express had one hell of a time getting the night shift to do the right thing. They tried moral suasion. They tried everything in the world without luck. And, finally, somebody got the happy thought that it was foolish to pay the night shift by the hour when what the employer wanted was not maximized billable hours of employee service but fault-free, rapid performance of a particular task. Maybe, this person thought, if they paid the employees per shift and let all night shift employees go home when all the planes were loaded, the system would work better. And, lo and behold, that solution worked.
Early in the history of Xerox, Joe Wilson, who was then in the government, had a similar experience. He had to go back to Xerox because he couldn’t understand why its new machine was selling so poorly in relation to its older and inferior machine. When he got back to Xerox, he found out that the commission arrangement with the salesmen gave a large and perverse incentive to push the inferior machine on customers, who deserved a better result.
And then there is the case of Mark Twain’s cat that, after a bad experience with a hot stove, never again sat on a hot stove, or a cold stove either.
We should also heed the general lesson implicit in the injunction of Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Alma-nark: “If you would persuade, appeal to interest and not to reason.” This maxim is a wise guide to a great and simple precaution in life: Never, ever, think about something else when you should be thinking about the power of incentives. I once saw a very smart house counsel for a major investment bank lose his job, with no moral fault, because he ignored the lesson in this maxim of Franklin. This counsel failed to persuade his client because he told him his moral duty, as correctly conceived by the counsel, without also telling the client in vivid terms that he was very likely to be clobbered to smithereens if he didn’t behave as his counsel recommended. As a result, both client and counsel lost their careers.
We should also remember how a foolish and willful ignorance of the superpower of rewards caused Soviet communists to get their final result as described by one employee: “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” Perhaps the most important rule in management is “Get the incentives right.“
But there is some limit to a desirable emphasis on incentive superpower. One case of excess emphasis happened at Harvard, where B. F. Skinner, a psychology professor, finally made himself ridiculous. At one time, Skinner may have been the best-known psychology pro fessor in the world. He partly deserved his peak reputation because his early experiments using rats and pigeons were ingenious, and his results were both counterintuitive and important. With incentives, he could cause more behavior change, culminating in conditioned reflexes in his rats and pigeons, than he could in any other way. He made obvious the extreme stupidity, in dealing with children or employees, of rewarding behavior one didn’t want more of. Using food rewards, he even caused strong superstitions, predesigned by himself, in his pigeons. He demonstrated again and again a great recurring, generalized behavioral algorithm in nature: “Repeat behavior that works.” He also demonstrated that prompt rewards worked much better than delayed rewards in changing and maintaining behavior. And, once his rats and pigeons had conditioned reflexes, caused by food rewards, he found what withdrawal pattern of rewards kept the reflexive
behavior longest in place: random distribution. With this result, Skinner thought he had pretty well explained man’s rnisgambling compulsion whereunder he often foolishly proceeds to ruin. But, as we shall later see when we discuss other psychological tendencies that contribute to misgambling compulsion, he was only partly right. Later, Skinner lost most of his personal reputation by overclaiming for incentive superpower to the point of thinking he could create a human utopia with it and by displaying hardly any recognition of the power of the rest of psychology. He thus behaved like one of Jacob Viper’s truffle hounds as he tried to explain everything with incentive effects. Nonetheless, Skinner was right in his main idea: Incentives are superpowers. The outcome of his basic experiments will always remain in high repute in the annals of experimental science. And his method of monomaniacal reliance on rewards, for many decades after his death, did more good than anything else in improving autistic children.
When I was at Harvard Law School, the professors sometimes talked about an overfocused, Skinner-like professor at Yale Law School. They used to say: “Poor old Eddie Blanchard, he thinks declaratory judgments will cure cancer.” Well, that’s the way Skinner got with his very extreme emphasis on incentive superpower. I always call the “Johnny-one-note” turn of mind that eventually diminished Skinner’s reputation the manwith-a-hammer tendency, after the folk saying: “To a man with only a hammer every.
problem looks pretty much like a nail.” Man-with-a-hammer tendency does not exempt smart people like Blanchard and Skinner. And it won’t exempt you if you don’t watch out. I will return to man-with-a-hammer tendency at various times in this talk because, fortunately, there are effective antidotes that reduce the ravages of what pretty much ruined the personal reputation of the brilliant Skinner .
One of the most important consequences of incentive superpower is what I call “incentive caused bias.” A man has an acculturated nature making him a pretty decent fellow, and yet, driven both consciously and subconsciously by incentives, he drifts into immoral behavior in order to get what he wants, a result he facilitates by rationalizing his bad behavior, like the salesmen at Xerox who harmed customers in order to maximize their sales commissions.
Here, my early education involved a surgeon who over the years sent bushel baskets full of normal gall bladders down to the pathology lab in the leading hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, my grandfather’s town. And, with that permissive quality control for which community hospitals are famous, many years after this surgeon should’ve been removed from the medical staff, he was. One of the doctors who participated in the removal was a family friend, and I asked him: “Did this surgeon think, ‘Here’s a way for me to exercise my talents”‘ — this guy was very skilled technically — “‘and make a high living by doing a few maimings and murders every year in the course of routine fraud?”‘ And my friend answered: “Hell no, Charlie. He thought that the gall bladder was the source of all medical evil, and, if you really loved your patients, you couldn’t get that organ out rapidly enough.”
Now that’s an extreme case, but in lesser strength, the cognitive drift of that surgeon is present in every profession and in every human being. And it causes perfectly terrible behavior. Consider the presentations of brokers selling commercial real estate and businesses. I’ve never seen one that I thought was even within hailing distance of objective truth_ In my long life, I have never seen a management consultant’s report that didn’t end with the same advice: “This problem needs more management consulting services.” Widespread incentive-caused bias requires that one should often distrust, or take with a grain of salt, the advice of one’s professional advisor, even if he is an engineer. The general antidotes here are:
1) especially fear professional advice when it is especially good for the advisor;
2) learn and use the basic elements of your advisor’s trade as you deal with your advisor; and
3) double check, disbelieve, or replace much of what you’re told, to the degree that seems appropriate after objective thought.
The power of incentives to cause rationalized, terrible behavior is also demonstrated by Defense Department
procurement history. After the Defense Department had much truly awful experience with misbehaving contractors motivated under contracts paying on a cost-plus-apercentage-of cost basis, the reaction of our republic was to make it a crime for a contracting officer in the Defense Department to sign such a contract, and not only a crime, but a felony.
And, by the way, although the government was right to create this new felony, much of the way the rest of the world is run, including the operation of many law firms and a lot of other firms, is still under what is, in essence, a cost-plus-a-percentage-of-cost reward system. And human nature, bedeviled by incentive-caused bias, causes a lot of ghastly abuse under these standard incentive patterns of the world. And many of the people who are behaving terribly you would be glad to have married into your family, compared to what you’re otherwise likely to get.
Now there are huge implications from the fact that the human mind is put together this way_ One implication is that people who create things like cash registers, which make dishonest behavior hard to accomplish, are some of the effective saints of our civilization because, as Skinner so well knew, bad behavior is intensely habit-forming when it is rewarded.
And so the cash register was a great moral instru ment when it was created. And, by the way, Patterson, the great evangelist of the cash register, knew that from his own experience. He had a little store, and his employees were stealing him blind, so that he never made any money. Then people sold him a couple of cash registers, and his store went to profit immediately. He promptly closed the store and went into the cash register business, creating what became the mighty National Cash Register Company, one of the glories of its time. “Repeat behavior that works” is a behavioral guide that really succeeded for Patterson, after he applied one added twist. And so did high moral cognition. An eccentric, inveterate do-gooder (except when destroying competitors, all of which he regarded as would-be patent thieves), Patterson, like Carnegie, pretty well gave away all his money to charity before he died, always pointing out that “shrouds have no pockets.” So great was the contribution of Patterson’s cash register to civilization, and so effectively did he improve the cash register and spread its use, that in the end, he probably deserved the epitaph chosen for the Roman poet Horace: “I did not completely die.“
The strong tendency of employees to rationalize bad conduct in order to get rewards requires many antidotes in addition to the good cash control promoted by Patterson. Perhaps the most important of these antidotes is use of sound accounting theory and practice. This was seldom better demonstrated than at Westinghouse, which had a subsidiary that made loans having no connection to the rest of Westinghouse’s businesses. The officers of Westinghouse, perhaps influenced by envy of General Electric, wanted to expand profits from loans to
outsiders. Under Westinghouse’s accounting practice, provisions for future credit losses on these loans depended largely on the past credit experience of its lending subsidiary, which mainly made loans unlikely to cause massive losses.
Now there are two special classes of loans that naturally cause much trouble for lenders. The first is ninety-five percent-of-value construction loans to any kind of real estate developer, and the second is any kind of construction loan on a hotel. So, naturally, if one were willing to loan approximately ninety-five percent of the real cost to a developer constructing a hotel, the loan would bear a much higher-than-normal interest rate because the credit loss danger would be much higher than normal. So, sound accounting for Westinghouse in making a big, new mass of ninety-five percent-of-value construction loans to hotel developers would have been to report almost no profit, or even a loss, on each loan until, years later, the loan became clearly worth par. But Westinghouse instead plunged into big-time construction lending on hotels, using accounting that made its lending officers look good because it showed extremely high starting income from loans that were very inferior to the loans from which the company had suffered small credit losses in the past. This terrible accounting was allowed by both international and outside accountants for Westinghouse as they displayed the conduct predicted by the refrain: “Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.”
The result was billions of dollars of losses. Who was at fault? The guy from the refrigerator division, or some similar division, who as lending officer was suddenly in charge of loans to hotel developers: Or the accountants and other senior people who tolerated a nearly insane incentive structure, almost sure to trigger incentive-caused bias in a lending officer: My answer puts most blame on the accountants and other senior people who created the accounting system. These people became the equivalent of an armored car cash carrying service that suddenly decided to dispense with vehicles and have unarmed midgets hand-carry its customers’ cash through slums in open bushel baskets.
I wish I could tell you that this sort of thing no longer happens, but this is not so. After Westinghouse blew up, General Electric’s Kidder Peabody subsidiary put a silly computer program in place that allowed a bond trader to show immense fictional profits. And after that, much accounting became even worse, perhaps reaching its nadir at Enron.
So incentive-caused bias is a huge, important thing, with highly important antidotes, like the cash register and a sound accounting system. But when I came years ago to the psychology texts, I found that, while they were about one thousand pages long, there was as little therein that dealt with incentive-caused bias and no mention of Patterson or sound accounting systems.
Somehow incentive-caused bias and its antidotes pretty well escaped the standard survey courses in psychology, even though incentive-caused bias had long been displayed prominently in much of the world’s great literature, and antidotes to it had long existed in standard business routines. In the end, I concluded that when something was obvious in life but not easily demonstrable in certain kinds of easy, repeatable academic experiments, the truffle hounds of psychology very often missed it.
In some cases, other disciplines showed more interest in psychological tendencies than did psychology, at least as explicated in psychology textbooks. For instance, economists, speaking from the employer’s point of view, have long had a name for the natural results of incentive-caused bias: “agency cost.” As the name implies, the economists have typically known that, just as grain is always lost to rats, employers always lose to employees who improperly think of themselves first. Employer installed antidotes include:
1) tough internal audit systems,
2) severe public punishment for identified miscreants, as well as
3) misbehavior-preventing routines and such machines as cash registers.
From the employee’s point of view, incentive-caused bias quite naturally causes opposing abuse from the employer: the sweatshop, the unsafe work place, etc. And these bad results for employees have antidotes not only in
1) pressure from unions, but also in
2) government action, such as wage and hour laws, workplace safety rules, measures fostering unionization, and workers’ compensation systems.
Given the opposing psychology-induced strains that naturally occur in employment because of incentive-caused bias on both sides of the relationship, it is no wonder the Chinese are so much into Yin and Yang.
The inevitable ubiquity of incentive-caused bias has vast, generalized consequences. For instance, a sales force living only on commissions will be much harder to keep moral than one under less pressure from the compensation arrangement. On the other hand, a purely commissioned sales force may well be more efficient per dollar spent. Therefore, difficult decisions involving trade-offs are common in creating compensation arrangements in the sales function.
The extreme success of free-market capitalism as an economic system owes much to its prevention of many of bad effects from incentive-caused bias. Most capitalist owners in a vast web of free market economic activity are selected for ability by surviving in a brutal competition with other owners and have a strong incentive to prevent all waste in operations within their ownership. After all, they live on the difference between their competitive prices and their overall costs and their businesses will perish if costs exceed sales. Replace such owners by salaried employees of the state and you will normally get a substantial reduction in overall efficiency as each employee who replaces an owner is subject to incentive-caused bias as he determines what service he will give in exchange for his salary and how much he will yield to peer pressure from many fellow employees who do not desire his creation of any strong performance model.
Another generalized consequence of incentive caused bias is that man tends to “game” all human systems, often displaying great ingenuity in wrongly serving himself at the expense of others. Antigaming features, therefore, constitute a huge and necessary part of almost all system design. Also needed in system design is an admonition: dread, and avoid as much you can, rewarding people for what can be easily faked. Yet our legislators and judges, usually including many lawyers educated in eminent universities, often ignore this injunction. And society consequently pays a huge price in the deterioration of behavior and efficiency, as well as the concurrence of unfair costs and wealth transfers. If education were improved, with psychological reality becoming better taught and assimilated, better system design might well come out of our legislatures and courts.
Of course, money is now the main reward that drives habits. A monkey can be trained to seek and work for an intrinsically worthless token, as if it were a banana, if the token is routinely exchangeable for a banana. So it is also with humans working for money — only more so, because human money is exchangeable for many desired things in addition to food, and one ordinarily gains status from either holding or spending it. Moreover, a rich person will often, through habit, work or connive energetically for more money long after he has almost no real need for more. Averaged out, money is a mainspring of modern civilization, having little precedent in the behavior of nonhuman animals. Money rewards are also intertwined with other forms of reward. For instance, some people use money to buy status and others use status to get money, while still others sort of do both things at the same time.
Although money is the main driver among rewards, it is not the only reward that works. People also change their behavior and cognition for sex, friendship, companionship, advancement in status, and other nonmonetary items.
“Granny’s Rule” provides another example of reward superpower, so extreme in its effects that it must be mentioned here. You can successfully manipulate your own behavior with this rule, even if you are using as rewards items that you already possess! Indeed, consultant Ph.D. psychologists often urge business organizations to improve their reward systems by teaching executives to use “Granny’s Rule” to govern their own daily behavior. Granny’s Rule, to be specific, is the requirement that children eat their carrots before they get dessert. And the business version requires that executives force themselves daily to first do their unpleasant and necessary tasks before rewarding themselves by proceeding to their pleasant tasks. Given reward superpower, this practice is nice and sound. Moreover, the rule can also be used in the nonbusiness part of life. The emphasis on daily use of this practice is not accidental. The consultants well know, after the teaching of Skinner, that prompt rewards work best_
Punishments, of course, also strongly influence behavior and cognition, although not so flexibly and wonderfully as rewards. For instance, illegal price fixing was fairly common in America when it was customarily punished by modest fines. Then, after a few prominent business executives were removed from their eminent positions and sent to federal prisons, price-fixing behavior was greatly reduced.
Military and naval organizations have very often been extreme in using punishment to change behavior, probably because they needed to cause extreme behavior. Around the time of Caesar, there was a European tribe that, when the assembly horn blew, always killed the last warrior to reach his assigned place, and no one enjoyed fighting this tribe. And George Washington hanged farm-boy deserters forty feet high as an example to others who might contemplate desertion.
The quantity of man’s pleasure from a ten dollar gain does not exactly match the quantity of his displeasure from a ten-dollar loss. That is, the loss seems to hurt much more than the gain seems to help. Moreover, if a man almost gets something he greatly wants and has it jerked away from him at the last moment, he will react much as if he had long owned the reward and had it jerked away. I include the natural human reactions to both kind of loss experience — the loss of the possessed reward and the loss of the almost-possessed reward —under one description, Deprival Superreaction Tendency.
In displaying Deprival Superreaction Tendency, man frequently incurs disadvantage by mis framing his problems. He will often compare what is near instead of what really matters. For instance, a man with $10 million in his brokerage account will often be extremely irritated by the accidental loss of $100 out of the $300 in his wallet.
The Mungers once owned a tame and good-natured dog that displayed the canine version of Deprival Super-reaction Tendency_ There was only one way to get bitten by this dog. And that was to try and take some food away from him after he already had it in his mouth. If you did that, this friendly dog would automatically bite. He couldn’t help it. Nothing could be more stupid than for the dog to bite his master. But the dog couldn’t help being foolish. He had an automatic Deprival Superreaction Tendency in his nature.
Humans are much the same as this Munger dog. A man ordinarily reacts with irrational intensity to even a small loss, or threatened loss, of property, love, friendship, dominated territory, opportunity: status, or any other valued thing. As a natural result, bureaucratic infighting over the threatened loss of dominated territory often causes immense damage to an institution as a whole. This factor among others, accounts for much of the wisdom of Jack Welch’s long fight against bureaucratic ills at General Electric. Few business leaders have ever conducted wiser campaigns.
Deprival Superreaction Tendency often protects ideological or religious views by triggering and hatred directed toward vocal nonbelievers. This happens, in part, because the ideas of the nonbelievers, if they spread, will diminish the influence of views that are now supported by a comfortable environment including a strong relief-maintenance system. University liberal arts departments, law schools, and business organizations all display plenty of such ideology-based groupthink that rejects almost all conflicting inputs. When the vocal critic is a former believer, hostility is often boosted both by:
a) a concept of betrayal that triggers additional Deprival Superreaction Tendency because a colleague is lost, and
b) fears that conflicting views will have extra persuasive power when they come from a former colleague.
The foregoing considerations help account for the old idea of heresy, which for centuries justified much killing of heretics, frequently after torture and frequently accomplished by burning the victim alive.
It is almost everywhere the case that extremes of ideology are maintained with great intensity and with great antipathy to non-believers, causing extremes of cognitive dysfunction. This happens, I believe, because two psychological tendencies are usually acting concurrently toward this same sad result: Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency, plus Deprival Superreaction Tendency.
One antidote to intense, deliberate maintenance of groupthink is an extreme culture of courtesy, kept in place despite ideological differences, like the behavior of the justices now serving on the U.S. Supreme Court. Another antidote is to deliberately bring in able and articulate disbelievers of incumbent groupthink. Successful corrective measures to evil examples of groupthink maintenance have included actions like that of Derek Bok when, as president of Harvard, he started disapproving tenure appointments proposed by ideologues at Harvard Law School.
Even a one-degree loss from a 180-degree view will sometime create enough Deprival Superreaction Tendency to turn a neighbor into an enemy, as I once observed when I bought a house from one of two neighbors locked into hatred by a tiny tree newly installed by one of them.
As the case of these two neighbors illustrated, the clamor of almost any group of neighbors displaying irrational, extreme deprival superreaction over some trifle in a zoning hearing is not a pretty thing to watch. Such bad behavior drives some people from the zoning field. I once bought some golf clubs from an artisan who was formerly a lawyer. When I asked him what kind of law he had practiced, I expected to hear him say, “divorce law” But his answer was, “zoning law.“
Deprival Superreaction Tendency has ghastly effects in labor relations. Most of the deaths in the labor strife that occurred before World War I came when employers tried to reduce wages. Nowadays, we see fewer deaths and more occasions when whole companies disappear, as competition requires either takeaways from labor — which it will not consent to — or death of the business. Deprival Superreaction Tendency causes much of this labor resistance, often in cases where it would be in labor’s interest to make a different decision.
In contexts other than labor relations, takeaways are also difficult to get. Many tragedies, therefore, occur that would have been avoided had there been more rationality and less subconscious heed of the imperative from Deprival Superreaction Tendency.
Deprival Superreaction Tendency and Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency often join to cause one form of business failure. In this form of ruin, a man gradually uses up all his good assets in a fruitless attempt to rescue a big venture going bad. One of the best antidotes to this folly is good poker skill learned young. The teaching value of poker demonstrates that not all effective teaching occurs on a standard academic path.
Deprival Superreaction Tendency is also a huge contributor to ruin from compulsion to gamble. First, it causes the gambler to have a passion to get even once he has suffered loss, and the passion grows with the loss. Second, the most addictive forms of gambling provide a lot of near misses and each one triggers Deprival Super-reaction Tendency. Some slot machine creators are vicious in exploiting this weakness of man. Electronic machines enable these creators to produce a lot of meaningless bar-bar-lemon results that greatly increase play by fools who think they have very nearly won large rewards.
Deprival Superreaction Tendency often does much damage to man in open-outcry auctions. The “social proof’ that we will next consider tends to convince man that the last price from another bidder was reasonable, and then Deprival Superreaction Tendency prompts him strongly to top the last bid. The best antidote to being thus triggered into paying foolish prices at open-outcry auctions is the simple Buffett practice: Don’t go to such auctions.
I myself, the would-be instructor here, many decades ago made a big mistake caused in part by subconscious operation of my Deprival Superreaction Tendency. A friendly broker called and offered me 300 shares of ridiculously under priced, very thinly traded Belridge Oil at $115 per share, which I purchased using cash I had on hand. The next day, he offered me 1,500 more shares at the same price, which I declined to buy, partly because I could only have made the purchase had I sold something or borrowed the required $173,000. This was a very irrational decision. I was a well-to-do man with no debt; there was no risk of loss; and similar no risk opportunities were not likely to come along. Within two years, Belridge Oil sold out to Shell at a price of about $3,700 per share, which made me about $5.4 million poorer than I would have been had I then been psychologically acute. As this tale demonstrates, psychological ignorance can be very expensive.
Some people may question my defining Deprival Superreaction Tendency to include reaction to profit barely missed, as in the well-documented responses of slot machine players. However, I believe that I haven’t defined the tendency as broadly as I should. My reason for suggesting an even broader definition is that many Berkshire Hathaway shareholders I know never sell or give away a single share after immense gains in market value have occurred. Some of this reaction is caused by rational calculation, and some is, no doubt, attributable to some combination of (1) reward superresponse, (2) “status quo bias” from Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency, and (3) “the endowment effect” from Excessive Self-Regard Tendency. But I believe the single strongest irrational explanation is a form of Deprival Superreaction Tendency. Many of these shareholders simply can’t stand the idea of having their Berkshire Hathaway holdings smaller. Partly they dislike facing what they consider an impairment of identity, but mostly they fear missing out on future gains from stock sold or given away.