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Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns

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FIVE

Why the Fear of Failure Makes People Risk Averse

Making money in the stock market is so simple a monkey

could do it. Here’s the secret: Buy low and sell high.

—David Dreman

IN THE LAST TWO CHAPTERS, we saw how fear affected both perception and decision making. Fear prevents people from taking action, and even worse, fear changes the way they see the world. Fear touches everything that we do on a daily basis, but it is perhaps no more clearly evident than in the stock market. Here, we see fear manifest in all its glory.

Fear can be boiled down to three types. First, fear of the unknown, as in “What’s the deal with this Chinese company I’ve never heard of that my broker is pushing on me?” Second, fear of failure. In finance, this masquerades ...

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