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Commentary

Investors: Push the Devil Off Your Shoulder

5 steps to change your behavior and avoid costly portfolio mistakes.

Investors can find it remarkably difficult to stay true to their plans over time. Whether you focus on minimizing fees, maximizing momentum, or uncovering fundamental valuations, there are many pressures to stray--from the urge to chase returns, to getting caught up in fads, to running scared when the markets turn rough. But why don't we resist those temptations? Why don't we stick to our guns?

One of the most troubling reasons is simply self-deception: Investors just don't realize that they are breaking their own rules. Behavioral scientists have conducted fascinating studies into why we self-deceive--and how we can structure our environments to do better. While the field is quite new, there are some promising approaches investors can take.

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