Trading Psychology: Watch out for that dopamine

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The market is not your enemy. You are. Well not you, but some of your innate biochemistry is. Not to make this article a major lesson on biology but I want to point out one of the major buggers that messes with your head: Dopamine. It’s a neurotransmitter chemical that drives so much of our motivations and behavior. Call it nature’s motivator drug. Vegas casinos know all about it. In fact, the gambling industry’s entire business model is designed around how to maximize how much fun dopamine is having in people’s brains to extract value from the gullible millions. Scientists have studied the effects of dopamine in detail and came up with some surprising results:

We all know when something nice happens to us we experience feelings of bliss and joy. Gamblers get excited when the lights go off at a slot machine and coins fall into the slot below. Traders experience giddiness when they have a nice winning trade. So far so good, but here comes the wicked revelation: Studies show that the ‘near-miss’ effect triggers dopamine levels not only as equal but they even grow stronger over time versus a winning experience. (more…)

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