I have discovered something interesting over the last couple years. Have you heard of the research that shows that people that trade with white chart backgrounds are more successful than traders with dark backgrounds? I knew a trader that switched all of his charts to a white based color scheme because of that report. Not sure if it helped him or not.
There is more to it... When I am really tired I can only concentrate on a few things. For me, a rule of three is important. I can only effectively watch three things at once. Price action, one indicator, and price levels. Also, indicators with more than three colors become confusing. Two colors is optimal. I generally go with two colors and sometimes two shades of those colors. Black, white, and gray = Bad! You want the indicator color to deliver the information you need in a glance without looking at precise numbers...
Anyway, the bottom line is... Optimize your colors, clean up your charts... Strip out unnecessary grid lines and etc! Shift the less important things toward more pastel hues and the more important to higher contrast so your eyes naturally focus on what is important!
Here is a trick... Get real tired, then try to read your charts... If you get confused, clean them up a bit. It works for me.
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There's definitely a limit to the number of things I can concentrate on at once -- or apparently, even look at or notice at once, especially if I am trying to weigh them against each other or extract some different information from them.
I think this goes far toward explaining why something looks obvious in hindsight, when looking at a chart on the weekend, but was impossible to see while the market was moving and decisions had to be made; you've only got so much attention to spare at one time, and when things are happening you can't spare very much.
A good argument for simplifying. Thanks for the observation.
When I trade I do best when I only focus on a couple of things. Once I add more than three things into the mix it becomes too convoluted.
I never heard about the white background concept but I think it may have to do with forcing the person to be more alert since it's bright. Turning up the back light on your monitor may do the same thing. Long term use with a white background may hurt the eyes. I use dim grey which looks like a light grey because I've found it to be the least intrusive color or less distracting of any other color. Green is interesting to use but it just seems to be a bit mucky and sedating. Black gives too much contrast to the candles so it makes trading become overly intense.
Cognitive limits for me are when my mind can't decipher true pattern recognition reflexes from adulterated instincts.
Last edited by Itchymoku; December 24th, 2013 at 08:55 PM.
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I dunno about the red thing. I have actually tested that and not noticed any difference.
As for the white background thing... I'm not sure where he found the research. I never read it myself. I can PM you his email so you can ask him yourself.
I use RGB(210,210,225) for chart backgrounds. It's a light grey with a slight touch of blue. I also set my samsung syncmaster monitors to Warm 2, contrast 65, brightness 25. Very little eyestrain. I look at my screen for twelve hours without problem with this setup.
Is it that the white background promotes easier understanding of the information on the chart?
Or perhaps those people who trade successfully have a greater clarity of thought than others, and prefer white background charts?
There is a lot of interesting research going on right now in the field of behavioural science that shows that people's decision making is subconsciously influenced by contextual and sometimes peripheral cues in ways that are quite surprising.
It's referred to as nudge theory; here's an article about it.
I remember reading a book back in the day that cited a study about color and our subconscious reaction to it. I think it was How We Know What Isn't So - Thomas Gilovich? Anyways, in the book, the mentioned a study that showed that in sporting events, referee's tend to have a bias against the opposing team and it was tied to the color of their jerseys. Because of human perception (and potentially social conditioning) players wearing darker jerseys had a risk of having a negative bias attached to their actions. For example, in a soccer game, a referee is more likely to see a malicious intent behind a tackle if the opposing team wears darker colors.
I find the theory interesting but personally, when it comes to trading, I think the impact of color in this aspect is minimal. If the color scheme of our trading platform makes us more apt to make mistakes when we are tired, we can change the color scheme or we can simply not trade when we are tired.
I do definitely agree with the removal of excessive data on a chart such as gridlines or tons of Moving Averages.