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06. Psychology

Understanding Fear

When traders get bad news about a certain stock or about the economy in general, they naturally get scared. They may overreact and feel compelled to liquidate their holdings and sit on the cash, refraining from taking any more risks. If they do, they may avoid certain losses but may also miss out on some gains.

Traders need to understand what fear is: a natural reaction to a perceived threat. In this case, it’s a threat to their profit potential.

Quantifying the fear might help. Traders should consider just what they are afraid of, and why they are afraid of it. But that thinking should occur before the bad news, not in the middle of it.

Fear and greed are the two visceral emotions to keep in control.

By thinking it through ahead of time, traders will know how they perceive events instinctively and react to them, and can move past the emotional response. Of course, this is not easy, but it’s necessary to the health of an investor’s portfolio, not to mention the investor.

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