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Janet in Trading psychology,

Fear and Greed

In order to be a successful day trader, you need to have the right tools, choose the right markets, and trade the right trading systems. However, it is just as important to have the right psychological and emotional outlook. Without the right psychology, your emotions will have a big impact on your trading, and may even prevent you from trading at all. The two main emotions that day traders experience are fear and greed, and while you will probably not be able to remove these emotions completely, you will need to manage them.


Fear is the emotion that stops us from doing things that might be too risky. In the right quantity, fear is obviously an emotion that we need, but when fear becomes too great we can be prevented from doing things that might be necessary. In day trading, the main fear a trader has is that they are going to make a losing trade and lose money. This is a rational fear as no trader wants to lose money, but it is irrational if it prevents the trader from taking any trades in the first place. As an example, a trader might make a losing trade, and then be too fearful to make the next trade, which of course turns out to be a winning trade, and would have covered the previous loss. By letting the fear take control, the trader now has a net loss, even though a winning trade was available. The emotion of fear can be overcome by acknowledging that all day traders have losing trades occasionally, but as long as they are less frequent than the winning trades, there is nothing to be afraid of as there will still be a net profit.


Greed is the opposite emotion to fear, in that it is the emotion that makes us do things we would not normally do. The right amount of greed is necessary because it gives us the motivation to work at something, but when we are too greedy we will start doing things even when we know that we should not. In day trading, greed can make traders make random trades, or hold on to positions longer than their trading system dictates. For example, if a trader is watching a market moving strongly upwards, the trader might be tempted to make a trade even though their trading system says not to. The trader has allowed the greed to take control, and more often than not in this scenario, they will be buying right at the end of the move and will have a losing trade. The emotion of greed can be overcome by testing and then trusting in your trading system, and knowing that if you follow it correctly, it will make a profit without taking every potential trade.