11 Biases That Affect Traders

As the name suggested, it is the irrational faith in one’s skills, methodology or beliefs. For example, you see a certain chart pattern and make a maximum leveraged trade, even though you understand that any chart pattern cannot predict market with certainty. Trading excessively after a winning streak also shows overconfidence.
Cognitive Dissonance
It means finding excuses for something which makes you ‘uncomfortable’. For example, jumping from one indicator to another when you face losing trades; or continuing to trade in stock even your trading methodology does not gives you a positive expectancy. 
Availability Bias
It means being biased to information which is readily and easily available. For example, people begin to trade using RSI without understanding the internal relative strength; that is, RSI is most talked about on forums so start using them without rationally researching it. Being affected from attractive advertisement or intelligent sounding articles (including this one!) without due diligence also signifies availability bias.
Self-Attribution Bias
It means giving yourself unwarranted praise for outcomes which may just be an outcome of chance. For example, people make money in a bull market through buy and hold and start begin to believe on their trading acumen rather than the market regime which favors their trading style. (more…)

There is a Difference Between What People Say and What They Think

For many, there is a difference between how you think you will act in certain conditions and how you actually act when the time comes. The term used to describe this condition is called empathy gap.

There are two basic scenarios in which empathy gap can impact your performance as a trader/investor:

– you don’t cut your losses when they hit your pre-established exit level. This is the single biggest reason, so many people struggle in the capital markets. One solution to the issue is to enter exit orders, immediately after you initiate an opening order (caution: it does not work with illiquid names, where market makers can easily shake you out);
– you don’t take the signals from your watchlist when they are triggered. Some stocks can really move fast after they pass their tipping point. When that happens, many traders feel like a deer in headlights and are not willing to pay the market price. They’ll put a limit order, hoping that the desired stock will come back and their order will be filled. The best stocks don’t come back. Don’t be afraid to pay the market price for proper breakouts.

In today’s information overloaded world, evidence suggests that 95 per cent of our decisions are made without rational thought. So consciously asking people how they will behave unconsciously is at best naïve and, at worst, can be disastrous for a business. (more…)


Last Night ,Completed reading  Trade Like An O’Neil Disciple by Gil Morales and Dr. Chris Kacher. One of the chapters, with a wealth of information, is “Our Bill of Commandments” wherein the authors discuss William O’Neil’s (think IBD) stock trading commandments. I thought it would be worthwhile to list them here.

1.  Never Get Carried Away With Yourself.  “The basic idea is that one should remain impervious to the illusions and trappings of wealth, as they often lead one to become carried away to the point where excess of one sort or another ultimately leads to one’s demise” (265).

2.  Never Operate From a Position of Fear.  “If you are fearful in the markets, either as a result of taking a recent loss or some other mistake, or even as a result of being nervous about the level of risk you are taking, then you are putting yourself in the position of making and unclear and hence incorrect decision” (265).

3.  You Learn More From Your Enemies Than You Do From Your Friends.  Make sure you take the criticism’s of others and use them to your advantage by recognizing that the more others criticize the more you value your own beliefs, trading or otherwise.

4.  Never Stop Learning and Improving. Always focus your mistakes and searching for ways to correct them.  That way you will not be as tempted to make the same mistake again. 

5.  Never Talk About Your Stocks.  This is purely an ego taming exercise.  While I personally believe it is ok to discuss technical analysis and stocks that may be on a watchlist there is really no benefit in bragging about success and hiding your failures.  It is ok to be wrong

6.  Don’t Get Giddy at the Top.  Bigger charts (such as the WEEKLY) are the best barameters for giddiness.  By watching over extended big charts, the trader’s emotions can be better managed thereby avoiding jumping on the caboose as the train is set to take a break from its recent trip.

7.  Use Weekly Charts First, Daily Second, and Ignore Intra-day Charts.  No need to focus on the noise at the expense of listening to the still, small voice of Mr Market. 

8.  Find The Big Stock.  Look for stocks under accumulation and then begin buying in preparation for distribution.

9.  Be Careful Who You Get Into Bed With.  Although not a trading rule per se, keeping good, solid company outside the charts, can help you be the best trader inside the charts.  “Trust and integrity between two people are the most important variables in life and in business” (269).

10.  Always Maintain Insane Focus. Focus “is what makes life worth living, and by relentlessly pursuing our passions we attain the state of insane focus that in turn drives high levels of success” (269).

No matter what you think of O’Neil and his trading strategy, one thing is for certain his commandments are applicable to all of us both in and outside the charts. 

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