“An investor’s main problem—and even his deadliest enemy—is likely to be oneself,” Benjamin Graham once stated. It is common knowledge that the human brain is a marvel capable of myriad mathematical, problem-solving, and communication abilities that no other living species can match.
When it comes to investing, however, humans have a history of making poor decisions and failing to learn from their experiences. Despite the fact that the human mind is very unique, people nonetheless fall prey to investment traps that can have major financial effects. As a result, behavioural finance has emerged as a new area aimed at understanding investor behavior in financial markets.
The most prevalent psychological pitfalls investors must avoid in order to maximize their chances of generating large returns are discussed in this essay.
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5 Investing Psychology Pitfalls to Avoid:
1. Bias in Anchoring
Anchoring Bias occurs when people depend too heavily on a historical reference point when making future judgments, or when they are ‘anchored’ to the past. This bias, which is a key idea in behavioural finance, can generate a lot of problems for investors.
For example, if you received a favorable return on a stock when you first bought it, you may have a positive outlook on future returns, even though there are strong signals that the company is about to tank. It’s crucial to remember that financial markets are quite volatile, so you should keep an open mind and seek professional counsel if you’re unsure about making significant investment decisions.
2. Sheep herding
The mob mentality, also known as herd mentality, is a strategy passed down from our forefathers that believes in the power of numbers. Unfortunately, in the financial market, following the crowd is not always the best plan, as following the crowd is not always the smartest move.
Ironically, this herding mentality among investors is the primary cause of financial market ‘bubbles.’ To protect their reputation, investors frequently ‘herd’ and rely their selections on historical trends or on investors who have had previous success with the same asset. When a company receives negative headlines, however, consumers are ready to dump stock or go into a buying frenzy when the stock performs well.
Every financial decision should be based on your own analysis and study, and you should avoid the urge to follow the crowd.
3. Aversion to Loss
People with Loss Aversion go to considerable measures to avoid losses since the agony of a loss is twice as powerful as the joy of an investment return. To put it another way, losing a dollar hurts twice as much as winning one. As emotional creatures, we frequently make decisions to avoid losses. For example, investors may pull their money out of the market during a slump, resulting in a larger cash accumulation, or investors may chose to hold their assets in the form of cash to avoid losses during a market correction.
However, the perceived safety of abandoning the market when it is unstable just results in more currency being circulated in the economy, which contributes to inflation. During the financial crisis of 2007, the US economy had $943 billion in cash increases.
Talking to a financial advisor about how to decrease losses and improve their portfolio for higher returns might help investors avoid the loss aversion trap.
4. The Supremacy Trap
When it comes to investing in the stock market, confidence is a valuable commodity, but overconfidence or narcissism can lead to an investor’s demise. Many investors, particularly those who are well educated and have a thorough understanding of finance and the stock market, believe they know more than a professional financial counselor.
It’s crucial to realize that the financial market is a complex system with many moving parts that no single person can outsmart. Many investors have lost enormous sums of money in the past simply because they succumbed to the overconfidence mentality and refused to listen to anyone’s counsel. The most hazardous form of negligence is overconfidence.
5. Confirmation bias
When investors fall into the confirmation trap, they seek out evidence that confirms their beliefs while ignoring hypotheses that contradict them. When investing in a stock that an investor believes will provide positive returns, the investor will filter out any evidence that contradicts their beliefs. They will continue to seek guidance from persons who have given them bad advice and will continue to make the same mistakes. As a result, investors tend to look at only one side of the coin, resulting in biased decision-making.
For example, simply because others are doing so, an investor will continue to hang on to a stock that is losing value. The investors assist each other in invalidating their reasons for holding on to the investment; nevertheless, this will not work in the long run, as both investors may lose money. Investors should look for fresh ways to look at a stock and conduct an unbiased study of their investment.
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How can an investor avoid falling into these mental traps?
The human mind is extremely complicated, and numerous internal and external influences can influence the judgments we make. Because of the pressures we face in society, it’s all too easy to succumb to temptation and fall into the psychological traps outlined above. Overconfidence, wanting reinforcement from others, and seeking comfort in other people in similar situations are just a few of the factors that can influence our financial decisions.
Nobody is perfect, and it is natural for people to slip into psychological traps. Staying open to new ideas and thinking practically about how the investment will affect you as a person are the greatest ways to mitigate these consequences. You should also seek the assistance of industry professionals to ensure that your investment decisions are based on well-researched data that can assist you in making objective decisions.
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