Shocked by the Market’s Drop? Chalk it Up to Recency Bias

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By Brad Sherman via

Whether you realize it or not, chances are good that you are prone to something called Recency Bias, which is the common tendency to think that what has been happening recently will continue to happen in the near future.

If you, like many investors, are shocked and concerned about February’s sudden market volatility, it’s probably a result of Recency Bias. The last 18 months of smooth sailing without market volatility got many investors lulled into thinking that that trend would continue indefinitely.

The result is that a dramatic shift has occurred in investor emotions in just a month, as shown in this chart from CNN Money:

We all know that markets experience volatility and, until 18 months ago, it was considered reasonably normal, but no one likes the thought of taking a loss. It’s hard not to panic if your oldest child is in college and her 529 just took a hit or if you’re a year away from retirement and your IRA just lost 15% of it’s paper value.

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