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Reality Check: What Are You Lying to Yourself About?

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On January 7, 2013 @ 7:15 am In Apprenticed Investor,Psychology,Rules | Comments Disabled


Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

Sam: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

-The Big Chill [1]



One of the things we all do as investors — indeed, as human beings — is to tell ourselves lies. Indeed, lots and lots of them. Some are little, some are giant, but they all have the same thing in common: We spend a lot of time and energy rationalizing our behavior, beliefs and decision making.

We fool ourselves.

It is part of our nature, we cannot help ourselves. But when it comes to investing, constantly lying to ourselves can be especially costly.

Here is a short list of the lies we collectively tell ourselves:

We can avoid allowing our emotions impact our thinking and behavior
We don’t have many biases that affect the way we perceive the world around us
We can evaluate fund managers (mutual or hedge funds)
We can predict the future
We are saving enough for retirement
We can pick stocks better than owning a broad index
Even if we have biases, we are smart enough to be aware of them
We are process, not outcome, focused
The Media hasn’t affected our thinking about a investment
We know how well we are doing with our investments
We are making good choices based on empirical evidence, not myths
We don’t allow hype to get us excited and drive us to making bad decisions
We are not easily influenced by experts
We understand the fees, costs, expenses and taxes impacting our portfolio
We do not chase performance
We have a good plan, we understand it intellectually
We have the discipline to follow our plan, and not get distracted
I won’t make the same mistakes this time
We can actively trade in and out and show a profit
We are smarter than most of the people we know, therefore we are smarter than the market

That is a short list, and probably reflects some of the things I am lying to myself about.

What are you lying to yourself about?


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URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/01/reality-check-for-investors/

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[1] The Big Chill: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085244/quotes

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