Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Statistically, only 11-25% of traders gain profit when trading Forex and CFDs. The remaining 74-89% of customers lose their investment. Invest in capital that is willing to expose such risks.

How To Deal With Overconfidence Bias In Trading

Author: Stelian Olar
Stelian Olar
All publications of the author

Are you an active trader who believes that your success is due to your superior knowledge, pattern recognition skills, or gut feeling? 

That sense of confidence can backfire and lead to overconfidence in trading, a cognitive bias that can cloud your judgment and cause losing trades. It's like driving a vehicle while wearing a blindfold and hoping for the best - but ultimately placing yourself in danger. 

As humans, we tend to remember the profitable trades and forget the losing trades, creating a positive self-image that reinforces the belief that we are good traders, despite evidence to the contrary. This can lead to overconfidence, which is one of the most common biases in trading. 

In this article, we'll explore the following:

  1. What is overconfidence bias in trading, 

  2. How it affects a trader's decision-making, 

  3. Techniques and tools traders can use to overcome it.

By recognizing the dangers of overconfidence bias and staying disciplined and self-aware, traders can improve their forex trading outcomes and avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence. 

What Is Overconfidence Bias?

Overconfidence bias in trading is a psychological phenomenon or a state of mind where you become overly confident in your abilities, to the point of ignoring rational decision-making and taking on excessive risk.  

When you have a winning streak, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll never lose a trade and that the price will always move in your favor. 

However, many times the market has different plans. 

The markets are inherently unpredictable, and even the most successful traders experience losses. 

Overconfidence bias can lead to: 

  • irrational trading decisions,

  • overtrading,

  • underperformance, 

  • loss of your entire trading capital.

It's crucial to keep a level head and exercise self-discipline to prevent falling victim to overconfidence bias. 

Remember, forex trading is not about catching every single opportunity that presents itself. Being selective is key, and understanding when to avoid trading is just as important as knowing when to trade.

Overconfidence In Trading

Traders who have experienced success in the past can become overconfident and start to take more risks without considering the negative effects. They may ignore warning signs, such as market trends, price action, or economic data, and make hasty decisions based on their past success. 

survey conducted by James Montier revealed that 74% of 300 professional fund managers believed they had above-average trading skills. None of the respondents believed they were not as good traders as they thought. 

The problem with overconfidence in trading is that it creates a false sense of control and knowledge. It makes traders more likely to take risks that they can't handle, underestimate potential dangers, and exaggerate their ability to control market events.

Causes Of Overconfidence Bias

What are the factors that make traders fall prey to overconfidence bias? 

Are there any examples of this psychological phenomenon in trading? 

Let's take a look. 

One such example is the winning streak phenomenon, which can give new traders a false sense of mastery. For instance, if a trader wins consistently in a demo account, they might think they're already an expert and jump into a live account without adequate preparation. 

One of the most significant risks associated with having a big winning streak is that it can feed into trading greed.

Another overconfidence bias example is familiarity bias, where traders feel overly confident because they know the market well. This can happen when traders rely too heavily on a specific indicator, even if the trading environment has changed. 

Illusionary bias is yet another example of overconfidence bias, where traders believe that they can make successful trades based on intuition alone, rather than sound price analysis. This false belief can lead them to take on bigger position sizes than they should, which often leads to larger drawdowns. 

Type of Overconfidence Bias

The following are the most common types of overconfidence in trading: 

  1. Over ranking - This occurs when traders believe they have a level of expertise in trading that they don't possess. This can easily lead to day trading addiction.

  2. The illusion of control - This emerges when traders are sure they have control over a situation, such as their favorite currency pair. Traders may rely too heavily on technical analysis or other tools, assuming they can predict market trends with accuracy. 

  3. Timing optimism - This is a bias that can occur when traders underestimate the amount of time that is needed for a trade to reach its profit target. 

  4. Desirability - This type of bias arises when traders let their desires or wishes cloud their judgment. 

Let's explore some tips in the next section on how to overcome overconfidence.

How To Avoid Overconfidence Bias

We all know how confidence can turn into overconfidence, right? It happens when we adopt the wrong mindset that isn’t based on solid trading analysis. 

And the problem is, once we act on our beliefs, we start to ignore other relevant information and only pay attention to what supports our trading bias. 

That's when we are about to make a big trading mistake. To avoid overconfidence bias, we need to be open to different market scenarios, and we need to be willing to change our minds as the price action unfolds. We need to question ourselves: 

Are we taking trades based on what the price action is doing, or are we just trying to prove ourselves right? 

So, how to avoid overconfidence bias? 

Pay attention to our self-talk during trades. 

Are we being flexible and open-minded, or are we just looking for information that supports our bias? 

And are we so focused on our profits and losses that we're not willing to adjust our thinking when we need to? 

Keep in mind that trading requires both confidence and humility. We need to be willing to admit when we're wrong and adjust our thinking accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Overconfidence in trading is a common trap that can manifest in several ways, such as over ranking, the illusion of control, timing optimism, and desirability. Overconfidence can be especially dangerous in highly volatile markets where prices can quickly swing in unexpected directions. Therefore, it's crucial to remain disciplined and focus on a solid trading plan based on sound risk management principles. 

Overall, the key to overcoming overconfidence bias is to strike a balance between confidence and humility. Traders need the confidence to take risks and make decisions, but they also need humility to recognize the limits of their knowledge and expertise. 

If you're still on the lookout for a reliable forex broker, check out the multi-functional table HERE for a detailed comparison of the best forex brokers.

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Risk Warning: Your capital is at risk. Statistically, only 11-25% of traders gain profit when trading Forex and CFDs. The remaining 74-89% of customers lose their investment. Invest in capital that is willing to expose such risks.