A new study shows that long hours on Wall Street isn't so good for your body -- or mind.
A new study shows that long hours on Wall Street isn't so good for your body -- or mind. - 

Adriene Hill: Investment bankers work long days -- really, really long days. And new research shows it takes a toll on their brains and their bodies.

USC professor Alexandra Michel has spent ten years studying the habits of investment bankers and she joins us now. Good morning.

Alexandra Michel: Good morning.

Hill: So tell me what did you learn about the working life of bankers?

Michel: Well the important thing I learned does not only apply to bankers -- it applies to all kinds of knowledge workers: lawyers, and software engineers. And these are people who are increasingly important in our knowledge-based economy. And we think about that kind of work as thinking for a living, but what I found is that the body plays an immensely important role in the kind of judgment you have; the kind of ethical sensitivity you can display.

Hill: Now I understand at some point you bankers' bodies just don't want to play along with the hours they're being asked to give -- is that right?

Michel: Yeah, that's right. So these people work 80, 100, sometimes 120 hours a week, and that harms your body. But it doesn't only harm your body; it impedes your ability to think and to be creative.

Hill: How does using your body for this many hours a week of work actually affect your judgment? What did you find?

Michel: Well I found that judgment declines. And I also want to point out that technical skill, that remains high. But judgment -- things like when junior people approach you -- your patience declines just a little bit. So things like that suffer, and creativity suffers. But what we need in this economy is people who come up with new recipes, with new insights. And if your body's completely depleted, you can't do that.

Hill: Professor Michel, thank you so much.

Michel: Thanks for your time, bye bye.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Adriene Hill at @adrienehill