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Is Trading Psychology a Hoax?
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Is Trading Psychology a Hoax?

  #111 (permalink)
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Excellent thread

What a brilliant thread - gets you thinking.

Heres my take...

All people learn - including people with natural abilities and advantages
  • If a person cannot swim...we teach them to swim
  • If a person cannot write...we teach them to write
  • if a person wants to become an engineer...they attend a university and learn
  • If a person wants to play professional sports...they get a good coach and play in a good team
  • If a person inherits a family business... mum and dad take years teaching, mentoring, showing, guiding

I am not a believer that you you either have it or you don't however there are gifts, abilities and contextual advantages that help a person excel. BUT hard work and persistence are also huge factors. Consider Henry Ford i

Henry Ford, 1863-1947, automobile manufacturer, first two automobile manufacturing companies failed. The first company filed for bankruptcy and the second ended because of a disagreement with his business partner. In June 1903, at the age of 40, he created a third company, the Ford Motor Company with a cash investment of $28,000.00. By July of 1903 the bank balance had dwindled to $223.65, but then Ford sold its first car, and as they say the rest is history.

If there is no mandated formal training or a community to teach a person how do you learn?
Imagine that there were no training requirements for anything
What would surgery look like?
What about law and order?

Heres the thing - some things in life are not taught well.
Some people have grown up without good role models of behaviour and how to cope with uncertainty when making decisions.
Some people have not had parents and access parenting courses when they are older - will they be bad or good parents?

Trading is a skill that is not taught to most people from a young age by someone who know what they are doing. It does not require a mandated course to complete. So how do people learn?

If a person wants to trade
...they have access to millions of books, self promoters, strategy salespeople and sharks
...it can be a lonely journey
... what would have been spotted and challenged by a teacher in a course can take a lot longer when you work through the issue yourself
... mentors, coaches, trading peers, forums, trading psychologists are all resources that can help get your head in the game

Heres the catch though
There are so many books, systems and "help" that are actually sharks in disguise that the way forward can be harder than formal training.

Another factor is that there is stigma attached to mental health issues. Don't believe me - next time your at a party tell a group you see a psychologist and see how they react. So maybe, to avoid confusion, the word psychologist should not be used as people see it mean weakness and failure. Working through an issue, from my perspective, is never a weakness. We all have crap to sort out.

So for trading the issue is about a career goal and and training to get there.
  • In studying to become a doctor do you think they have course content looking at coping with the death of a patient? Do you think they would have a network to talk about this issue?
  • To teach his kids about taking over the family buisiness do you think a father would have talked about what it takes to stay in the game and deal with people that don't pay their bills?

The point is I suppose is that psychology is a word that has bad connotations - mental health stigma. But what we are essientially talking about for trading (and other life choices) is the development of skills and mindset to pursue a goal. Many people have opportunities in life where "psychological skills" are discussed in a conversation with a friend, parent or mentor. Other people do not have these natural opportunities.

In my opinion psyhcohological skills CAN help skill development in areas like
  • Mindest
  • Problem solving
  • Articulating an issue
  • Goal setting
  • Netwoks to helpe pelople build skills they did not learn due to breakdown of community
  • Helping people retrain behaviour/habits that has developed over a lifetime.

There are however sharks in the psychology services as well - so be careful. Some people will take your money and create a dependence on them - its a great way to get repeat business. Avoid them.

What things can make a psychologist unnessary?
  • Maybe if traders accessed formal trading from pros
  • Training over an extended period of time at a reasonable cost
  • Training that required observing and practice (as with any career). Job placement/work exp with someone.
  • The network of peers and trained professionals to talk - down the pub, on the phone, emails...

I'm a believer in goals, learning, skill development, psychological adaptation and perseverence - again Henry Ford is a great role model for me. I wonder who he talked with after he went bankrupt? What people assited him informally?...Today maybe those informal conversations could be labeled psychology

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  #112 (permalink)
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DionysusToast View Post
To trade, you need to learn how to trade. That is the baseline.

If you believe that trading is a skill based competitive endeavour, then it follows that psychology may have a part.

Like any sporting endeavour, psychology can't make up for you being crap in the first place. So, no point getting a sports psychologist to attend your first golf lesson.

On the other hand, let's say you have a 15 yard put on the 18th. Hole this shot and you win the tournament and a cool $1,000,000. Fluff the shot and share 2nd place with 5 others. As you line up for that shot, your visits to a sports psychologist could make or break you. So could beta-blockers.

Think about it - this is an easy shot you took a million times. But now there is so much riding on it, can you just saunter up to the ball and pop it in the hole? Or will you be deliberate, think things through too much, not rely on just letting your body do it's thing in taking the shot. In short - will you f*** it up?

With any skill, your performance can degrade under pressure. You need skill before this will show up in my opinion but anyone that has played a sport competitively will know that feeling of pressure that mounts as the outcome becomes more important.

Well said. Very well said.

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  #113 (permalink)
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DionysusToast View Post
To trade, you need to learn how to trade. That is the baseline.

If you believe that trading is a skill based competitive endeavour, then it follows that psychology may have a part.

Like any sporting endeavour, psychology can't make up for you being crap in the first place. So, no point getting a sports psychologist to attend your first golf lesson.

On the other hand, let's say you have a 15 yard put on the 18th. Hole this shot and you win the tournament and a cool $1,000,000. Fluff the shot and share 2nd place with 5 others. As you line up for that shot, your visits to a sports psychologist could make or break you. So could beta-blockers.

Think about it - this is an easy shot you took a million times. But now there is so much riding on it, can you just saunter up to the ball and pop it in the hole? Or will you be deliberate, think things through too much, not rely on just letting your body do it's thing in taking the shot. In short - will you f*** it up?

With any skill, your performance can degrade under pressure. You need skill before this will show up in my opinion but anyone that has played a sport competitively will know that feeling of pressure that mounts as the outcome becomes more important.

in other words, in order to be a successful professional athlete, you have to be able to perform under pressure. and the same goes for trading.

if you struggle with psychology issues, then you're not ready or maybe never will be. as simple as that. what's the worst that can happen? you'll lose money. and if you can't afford to lose money, then this is a great clue that trading is not for you.

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  #114 (permalink)
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Silvester17 View Post
in other words, in order to be a successful professional athlete, you have to be able to perform under pressure. and the same goes for trading.

if you struggle with psychology issues, then you're not ready or maybe never will be. as simple as that. what's the worst that can happen? you'll lose money. and if you can't afford to lose money, then this is a great clue that trading is not for you.

Lots of professional golfers have used a psychologist to get them through rough patches. I am talking about world champions.

In my fathers 'sport' - Professional darts players have a condition called "dartitis" that prevents them from letting go of the darts. I am talking about world champions.

These are people at the peak of their game. It happens in many sports, people have ups and downs.

The book "Golf is not a game of perfect" is a sports psychology book but is also one of the best trading books I have ever read, even though trading is not mentioned in there once.

In fact, there is evidence that beyond psychology, biology plays a part. In the book "The Hour Between Dog & Wolf", the hormonal changes of being on top of your game are discussed and their is evidence that this causes rash behaviour that causes performance degradation too. Fascinating book.

Still - I think the baseline is knowing how to trade. Without that, psychology won't help at all. Within that, I think it has a place but is perhaps something you lean on when your hit a rough patch.

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  #115 (permalink)
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DionysusToast View Post
Lots of professional golfers have used a psychologist to get them through rough patches. I am talking about world champions.

Amazing how people compare traders to professional golfers. Those golfers have already done amazing things to get their professional card. They are already equivalent to the greatest traders in the world, and only the top 200 make significant money worthy of continuing as "Professional." The ones that don't make it become club professionals, caddies, or tour operators, but they are not golfing professionals, unlike many dropout traders turning psychiatrists and educators that call themselves professional traders.

The very top performers, when they go to a psychologist it is for a checkup, tune up, and if necessary minor adjustments to a machine that is already a winner (a NASCAR analogy). Not every one of 39000 drivers on futures.io (formerly BMT) and many more thousands in the world need the same tune-ups, many of whom not knowing how to drive a dune buggy.

It is misleading to compare apples to oranges. Yes, it is true that top 200 traders may need to see a psychologist once a while to relieve them from pressure, but they know their stuff. Most likely they see a psychologist for issues outside trading that are affecting their trading, like family issues, etc. But it is not to learn when hold or when to fold, they already know that.

The pressure for performing belongs in every job, so if one can't take the heat should not be in the kitchen (Dr. Gary implied the same in his webinar). Yes, he can crank up the air conditioning, but still can't cook. One can only compare Tiger, Jim Hargaugh, Roger Federer, etc. to the top 4 traders in the world. Unlike tens of thousands of want-to-be-overnight-rich Forex and futures sensations, these guy have been training with the best since they were in diapers.

We are talking about a few one-of-a-kind people at the highest level of performance. If I ever get to that level of performance in trading my worries would be unrelated to trading know how but more personal issues. I could then hire my own personal psychologist to keep my calendar and remind me of my shortcomings in the harem.

Cheers!


Last edited by aligator; February 19th, 2013 at 11:32 AM.
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  #116 (permalink)
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aligator View Post
Amazing how people compare traders to professional golfers.

Not really - it is merely an analogy used to illustrate a point.



aligator View Post
Those golfers have already done amazing things to get their professional card. They are already equivalent to the greatest traders in the world, and only the top 200 make significant money worthy of continuing as "Professional." The ones that don't make it become club professionals, caddies, or tour operators, but they are not golfing professionals, unlike many dropout traders turning psychiatrists and educators that call themselves professional traders.

The very top performers, when they go to a psychologist it is for a checkup, tune up, and if necessary minor adjustments to a machine that is already a winner (a NASCAR analogy). Not every one of 39000 drivers on futures.io (formerly BMT) and many more thousands in the world need the same tune-ups, many of whom not knowing how to drive a dune buggy.

It is misleading to compare apples to oranges. Yes, it is true that top 200 traders may need to see a psychologist once a while to relieve them from pressure, but they know their stuff. Most likely they see a psychologist for issues outside trading that are affecting their trading, like family issues, etc. But it is not to learn when hold or when to fold, they already know that.

The pressure for performing belongs in every job, so if one can't take the heat should not be in the kitchen (Dr. Gary implied the same in his webinar). One can only compare Tiger, Jim Hargaugh, Roger Federer, etc. to the top 4 traders in the world. Unlike tens of thousands of want-to-be-overnight-rich Forex and futures sensations, these guy have been training with the best since they were in diapers.

We are talking about a few one-of-a-kind people at the highest level of performance. If I ever get to that level of performance in trading my worries would be unrelated to trading know how but more personal issues. I could then hire my own personal psychologist to keep my calendar and remind me of my shortcomings in the harem.

Cheers!

A point that you seem to agree on.

One guy says


Silvester17 View Post
in other words, in order to be a successful professional athlete, you have to be able to perform under pressure. and the same goes for trading.
.

Then you show that professional athletes do actually need help.

Then the next guy on the forum says "but those are the elite, that's not a valid example"....

You gotta love these discussions...

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  #117 (permalink)
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Bottom line, discounting psychology is the same as discounting your mental health. Psychology doesn't mean seeing a shrink. It means being aware of your mind and its behaviors. Surely you aren't going to try and make an argument that mental health is unimportant.

I for one try not to be so close minded to think that I can just use willpower alone to be good at something.

Skill is composed of more things than just physical prowess. There is also mental aptitude. And in order to exercise your mind, you must at least accept that psychology is not a "hoax".

Mike

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  #118 (permalink)
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Big Mike View Post
Bottom line, discounting psychology is the same as discounting your mental health.

True, but why the unnatural premium placed on mental health in relation to the subject of trading when "mental health" is discounted in so many more important aspects of one's life?!

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  #119 (permalink)
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plethora View Post
True, but why the unnatural premium placed on mental health in relation to the subject of trading when "mental health" is discounted in so many more important aspects of one's life?!

Perhaps it is because people are very emotional when money is on the line?

All you need to do is read journals on futures.io (formerly BMT) to see how emotions play a major role in trading.

Mike

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2) Start a journal and post to it daily with the trades you made to show your strengths and weaknesses.
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4) Accept responsibility for your actions. Stop looking elsewhere to explain away poor performance.
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  #120 (permalink)
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aligator View Post
Translation: So if that someone is better at coaching than trading, then that someone should be couching "How to Coach" not "How to Trade."

Non sequitur. If someone is better at coaching than trading, they should coach versus trade. Nothing has been said as to whether they can coach others on how to coach traders (i.e. How to Coach), which is irrelevant in this case.

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