Synchronicity, instant messaging, and performance among financial traders

Serguei Saavedra, Kathleen Hagerty, Brian Uzzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Successful animal systems often manage risk through synchronous behavior that spontaneously arises without leadership. In critical human systems facing risk, such as financial markets or military operations, our understanding of the benefits associated with synchronicity is nascent but promising. Building on previous work illuminating commonalities between ecological and human systems, we compare the activity patterns of individual financial traders with the simultaneous activity of other traders-an individual and spontaneous characteristic we call synchronous trading. Additionally, we examine the association of synchronous trading with individual performance and communication patterns. Analyzing empirical data on day traders' second-to-second trading and instant messaging, we find that the higher the traders' synchronous trading is, the less likely they are to lose money at the end of the day. We also find that the daily instant messaging patterns of traders are closely associated with their level of synchronous trading. This result suggests that synchronicity and vanguard technology may help traders cope with risky decisions in complex systems and may furnish unique prospects for achieving collective and individual goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5296-5301
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 29 2011


  • Collective human behavior
  • Crowds
  • Data mining
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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