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Decide and Conquer: The Ultimate Guide for Improving Your Decision Making, Second Edition by Stephen P. Robbins

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27. Who You Gonna Blame? The Self-Serving Bias

The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame it on.

—Anonymous

In May 1999, Maria Walker’s husband died of a brain tumor. He left her with a home that was paid for and about $350,000. Only 33 years old at the time, Maria knew she would need this money to sustain her lifestyle in the years to come. And uncertain how to invest, she turned the money over to Brion Randall, a long-time friend of her late husband who was a broker with Merrill Lynch.1 As a friend, Maria trusted Brion to invest her money well.

First, Brion invested Maria’s inheritance in blue chip stocks like Walmart and IBM. But as the price of high-tech stocks skyrocketed in late 1999, he advised Maria ...

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