'Gut feelings' makes trader better?

A number of news sources reported on this research by the University of Cambridge. People with better a better interoceptive ability (gut feelings) perform better as a trader. The term ‘gut feeling’ is often used as colloquial for interoceptive sensations guiding behavior. These sensations often come from organs such as the lungs or the hart and not just the 'gut'.

The study focused on the subject's ability to count their own heartbeat, the so called heartbeat detection score. A person who is more aware of his/her heartbeat will score better on this test than someone who is less aware. Using this heartbeat detection score, a group of traders and a group of non traders were evaluated.

On average, traders score higher on the heartbeat detection score than non traders. This is an interesting observation. Among traders a trend was found that traders with a higher heartbeat detection score have a higher P&L. It also showed that the longer someone worked as a trader the score went up.

Of course there is a question of cause and effect here, does someone who trades somehow improve this ability? This would not explain the correlation with the P&L. And as we all know, correlation does not mean causation or even a direct link. It could simply be that the traders drink excessive amounts of coffee and therefor their heartbeat is obviously present.

It should also be noted that the groups used for testing were 18 traders and 48 non traders. So don't update your hiring process just yet. Maybe some of the larger dutch shops could pitch in if someone wants to do follow up research.