Behavioral Traits That Are Killing Your Portfolio Returns

Investor psychology is one of the most significant reasons individuals consistently fall short of their investment goals. While one of the most common truisms is that “investors buy high and sell low,” the underlying reason is the behavioral traits that plague our investment decision-making.

George Dvorsky once wrote that:

“The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn’t mean our brains don’t have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we’re subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.“

Behavioral traits and cognitive biases are anathemas to portfolio management as they impair our ability to remain emotionally disconnected from our money. As history all too clearly shows, investors always do the “opposite” of what they should when it comes to investing their own money. They “buy high” as the emotion of “greed” overtakes logic and “sell low” as “fear” impairs the decision-making process.

In other words:

“The most dangerous element to our success as investors…is ourselves.”

Here are the top five most insidious behavioral traits keeping us from achieving our long-term investment goals.