How Does Hindsight Bias Influence Investing Decisions?

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Since its top of 1881 in 2016, the Nepal Stock Exchange has been on a downward trend. The market dropped to as low as 1100, a drop of nearly 40% from its peak. Many investors lost a lot of money as a result of the devastating market meltdown.

If we ask investors right now if they thought the market was going to tumble after 2016, many will say yes. However, at the peak, investors were more bullish on the market. The massive quantity of everyday turnover demonstrates this. The daily transaction amount was between 1.5 and 2 billion rupees.

So, how does an investor’s opinion of the same event change? This is a psychological phenomena known as ‘Hindsight bias.’

The tendency of people to perceive events as more predictable than they actually are is referred to as hindsight bias. In other words, it makes the past appear less predictable than it was. Things always appear more evident after they have occurred.

Decision making is difficult prior to the occurrence due to a lack of information and foresight. However, looking at the available results after the event, the outcome appears more predictable.

During the bullish era in our market, investors were uninformed of the oncoming market disaster. As a result, many people were highly involved in stocks. Some people predicted that the market would crash. However, no one was certain at the moment.

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However, after the market fall, investors believe that they were forewarned that the market would drop. With more information regarding the market crash becomes accessible, investors appear to be more sure about the event’s predictability.

Why is hindsight bias dangerous in investing?

Consider the following scenario: You are considering purchasing a stock called ABC. However, you do not purchase it for some reason. The price of ABC stock then skyrockets. What are your thoughts?

The answer is that you are stupid. You kick yourself for squandering the opportunity. You are remorseful for not purchasing the stock when you realized it was a winner. You tell yourself, ‘I knew the stock would soar.’ This is what we mean by hindsight bias.

So, what makes it dangerous? This is because you have made a promise to yourself that you would not make the same mistake again. You are more confident in your decision-making abilities, and you vow to seize the next opportunity. This is the danger that hindsight bias can cause. The next time might not be the same as the previous.

Let’s have a look at another scenario: You consider purchasing a stock called ABC. However, you do not purchase it for some reason. The price of ABC stock then plummets. Now consider if you would have felt the same way in the first situation.

No, it does not. You congratulate yourself on making a wise decision not to buy ABC stock. You knew the stock would decline, which is why you didn’t buy it in the first place.

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Why is the response different in these two cases? In an ideal world, the answer in both circumstances would be the same. In both circumstances, you made the same decision not to acquire stock ABC prior to the rise or fall in its price. However, after the event occurs, such as a price rise or decline, you change your reaction in accordance with the nature of the occurrence.

This is risky because it gives you the impression that you knew it all along, giving you a false sense of security in your judgment. This can lead to overconfidence in your financial abilities and reckless decisions.

How do you prevent falling into the Hindsight Bias trap?

Several behavioral experts have recommended producing a list of everything that was considered when making the decision. This could be a good plan. We will know what our thought process was at the time of decision making if we make a record of the reasoning behind our decisions. We cannot change our statements after the event has occurred. This will aid us in making an accurate assessment of our abilities.

Investors may not consider hindsight bias as a concern. However, it may lead you to make decisions based on your perspective rather than facts.

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In conclusion

In our daily lives, we experience hindsight bias. Whether it’s investing, gaming, exams, or anything else, the outcome makes us feel much more confident in our abilities. If Real Madrid beats Sevilla, we’ll tell ourselves and others that we knew Madrid was going to win. Similarly, if the stock/real estate price is rising, ‘I knew it’ comes into play.

Even if it hasn’t caused any immediate harm, it can make you overconfident, causing your next bet to be more illogical. Real Madrid won, but the outcome might be different the next time. Past events cannot be utilized to predict the future completely. Information and strategies evolve in tandem with the passage of time.

As a result, it is preferable to treat each possibility as new and base your judgment on facts. The past appears to be easy to anticipate, yet this is not the case. It is a hallucination that arises following the occurrence of the result. As a result, it is preferable to stick to your investing ideas and tactics.