How Do YOU Feel When You Trade?

Brett Steenbarger of TraderFeed posted a personality questionnaire a few weeks ago. It is designed to assess the emotions you experience when trading in the stock market. Here’s how I scored:


  1. I feel happy when I’m trading = 4 (often)
  2. I feel stressed when I’m trading = 2 (occasionally)
  3. I feel alert and energetic when I’m trading = 5 (most of the time)
  4. I feel discouraged when I’m trading = 1 (rarely)
  5. I feel capable of succeeding at my trading = 4 (often)
  6. I blame myself when my trading doesn’t work out = 1 (rarely)
  7. I feel satisfied with my trading results = 4 (often)
  8. I feel edgy and frustrated when I’m trading = 1 (rarely)
  9. I feel in control of what happens in my trading = 3 (sometimes)
  10. I make impulsive decisions when I’m trading = 1 (rarely)


My positive emotional experience score (all the odd questions): 20
My negative emotional experience score (all the even questions): 6

Steenbarger next post describes what these scores mean. Basically, a high positive score and a low negative score is good. So I’m doing well. Whew!

He cites several studies that describe a concept called subjective well-being (SWB). One study, from the Annual Review of Psychology, entitled “On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonistic and Eudaimonic Well-Being” by psychologists Richard Ryan & Edward Deci, describes SWB as having three components:

  • General life satisfaction
  • The presence of positive emotions
  • The absence of negative emotions

They may sound familiar; they’re basically the components of happiness. One of the more interesting finds from this study is that we’re happier when we pursue autonomous goals.

When we are free to set and pursue our own goals, we tend to be much more fulfilled than if we are pursuing goals that have been set for us.

You’ve probably heard the axiom that good-looking people are happier in life. Well, another notable find from the study:

Interestingly, such factors as salary and physical attractiveness do not predict SWB. In fact, people whose values show a preference for high income and job success over personal relationships tend to report less happiness and self-fulfillment than those who emphasize interpersonal attachments.

The questionnaire was designed to “assess well-being and stress in the context of one’s trading.” The positive emotional experience questions focused on feelings of personal satisfaction, perceived competence, and perceived autonomy. The negative emotional experience questions focused on feelings of anxiety, frustration, and loss of control.

In other words, it’s much more important to have self-confidence and control over your own trading goals, than to be in the market purely for a profit. Steenbarger summarizes this well:

Trading may not always be profitable, but it is important that it contribute, over time, to a sense of autonomy and competence and that it be accompanied by experiences of personal fulfillment.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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