Cognitive Bias – Loss aversion

  • October 2, 2022
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Cognitive Bias - Loss Aversion

Cognitive Bias – Loss Aversion

“There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain.” – Divinyls.

Loss aversion is a psychological phenomenon that describes the tendency of individuals to feel the pain of losses more acutely than the pleasure of gains. In the context of investing in the stock market, loss aversion can have a significant impact on decision-making and behaviour.

Emotional impact:
Losses in the stock market can trigger strong emotions, such as fear, anxiety, and disappointment. Loss-averse investors may be more likely to make impulsive decisions, such as selling stocks prematurely to avoid further losses, or avoiding investing altogether due to fear of losing money. This emotional response can lead to irrational investment decisions that may not align with long-term investment goals.

Risk aversion:
Loss aversion can also lead to increased risk aversion. Investors who are highly loss averse may be more reluctant to take risks and opt for safer investment options, even if they offer lower potential returns. This can result in missed opportunities for growth and wealth accumulation over the long term.

Overemphasis on past losses:
Loss aversion can cause investors to dwell on past losses and base future investment decisions on these losses, rather than considering current market conditions or future prospects of investments. This can lead to a biased perception of risk and return, and may result in suboptimal investment decisions.

Inability to cut losses:
Loss aversion can also make it difficult for investors to cut their losses and sell underperforming investments. Investors may hold onto losing investments longer than they should, hoping to recover their losses, even when it’s clear that the investment is not performing well. This can result in further losses and hinder portfolio performance.

Conservative asset allocation:
Loss-averse investors may be more inclined to allocate their portfolio in conservative investments, such as bonds or cash, in an attempt to minimize the risk of losses. However, this conservative approach may limit the potential for higher returns, especially in the long run, and may not be suitable for achieving long-term investment goals, such as retirement planning or wealth accumulation.

Managing Loss Aversion:
It’s important for investors to be aware of this psychological bias and consider a balanced approach that takes into account both the potential risks and rewards of their investment decisions. Attending Wealthwise Education’s ‘Invest for Success’ Program will be helpful in managing the impact of loss aversion when investing in the stock market.

Stock Market Investor Education:
‘Invest for Success’ is a 4 week program starting with a 2 day in-person workshop + 4 x 1 hour online sessions over 4 weeks.  Call us now for more information +61.2.9488.9900.

Read more:  Top 5 Cognitive Biases Overview


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