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Behavioral Biases: What Makes Your Brain Trick?

In last month’s blog, we discussed the deep-seated “fight or flight” instincts that that trick us into making significant money-management mistakes. Now let’s take a look at a half-dozen of the behavioral biases that arise from our wiring, and how they can sabotage even the best-laid investment plans.

Behavioral Bias #1: Herd Mentality

Herd mentality is what happens to you when you see a market movement afoot and rush to join the stampede. The herd may be hurtling toward what seems like a hot buying opportunity, such as a “next big thing” stock. Or it may be fleeing a perceived risk, such as a country in economic turmoil. Either way, as we covered in “Ignoring the Siren Song of Daily Market Pricing,” following the herd puts you on a dangerous path toward buying high, selling low and incurring unnecessary expenses.

Behavioral Bias #2: Recency

Your long-term plans are also at risk when you succumb to the tendency to give undue weight to recent information. In “What Drives Market Returns?” we learned that stocks have historically delivered premium returns over bonds. Whenever stock markets dip downward, though, we typically see recency bias at play, as droves of investors sell their stocks to seek “safe harbors.” In a roaring bull market, they reverse course and buy.

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