I am taking this opportunity to reproduce the excellent June 2003 piece on trading psychology by Gail Osten on sfomag.com. Ari Kiev, Ruth Barrons Roosevelt, Brett Steenbarger and Adrienne Laris Toghraie participated in the round table discussion... for those of you who are into the psychology of trading, these are all names that you should already aware of... GO (Gail Osten, SFO Editor): First, thanks to each of you for participating in this roundtable. Each in your own way has something to offer the trader from a psychological point of view. Iâm interested to see how your responses may shed light from different angles. To start off, what would you say sets trading apart from any other profession? AT (Adrienne Toghraie): When most traders first come into trading, they truly do not handle trading as a profession. In other professions, people endure long, arduous educations for making decisions that become embedded for an automatic response for their neurology to handle. Without this training, trading sessions in the beginning are not only an intellectual choice, but an emotional choice. When dealing with losses, a trader goes into the psychological place where he stores all losses. Since human beings avoid losses, a trader who does not operate out of an automatic response will make an emotional choice. Emotional trading builds negative anchors that keep a trader from following good money-making strategies. GO: Itâs been my experience that a lot of traders do indeed seem to jump in without any experience or education at all â particularly after a bull market where they have profited quite well from investments. It makes them feel like theyâre already experts. Any other ideas? AK (Ari Kiev): One thing that differentiates trading from other activities is that youâre constantly being measured. A long-term investor buys stock, holds for a year or two and rides out the fluctuations. A trader whoâs taking advantage of short-term moves is very much influenced by the intra-day volatility and, so, he is measuring performance daily. A traderâs performance is constantly judged, recorded and measured. There arenât too many other activities out there where your performance is measured so closely. In a regular business you can say, âWeâll get our figures quarterly, and weâll make projections and plans based on how things have been going.â So in regular business, youâre protected from the scorecard âtil the end of the game or âtil the end of the quarter. RR (Ruth Barrons Roosevelt): Itâs also different from a regular business because politics donât help. You canât charm your way through the markets. Maybe you can persuade people to do things, but your personal magnetism alone will not draw winning trades to you. Second, the everyday things are different. With trading, the future is completely unknown. Itâs not like walking into an office every day with a routine. In a day of trading, many more surprises will pop up than in a day in a cubicle. Thatâs not to say that there arenât similarities though. I would say that there are at least two similarities between trading and other types of professions. One is that risk taking is rewarded, but it needs to be managed risk. Second is that optimism is rewarded. BS (Brett Steenbarger): Youâre right. There are definitely similarities. In fact, my focus has been on looking at the similarities rather than the differences, trying to identify fields that are similar to trading in several different respects, where they have a high case of activity, a high degree of risk and reward and a high-performance demand. And, so, my search for similar fields has led me to professional sports and elite military services like the special forces. I have been trying to see how they are similar to trading and how people are trained in those fields as a way of getting some insight into how people might be trained to become effective traders. GO: Interesting. As long as weâre on the topic of similarities, what professions does everyone else think are similar to trading? AT: A surgeon, a trial lawyer, an athlete, concert performer or any kind of person that performs and has to do it live. GO: Because of the necessity for spontaneity? AT: Right, because you have to be continuously on alert. You have to be conscious, while at the same time perform somewhat intuitively. So, you have to be able to go with the flow of your education. You have to be able to go with the flow of whatâs coming next, even if youâre not sure of whatâs coming next. GO: Well you certainly donât know whatâs coming next in trading. What do you think, Ari?