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Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading and Risk Hardcover – January 5, 2012


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Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading and Risk + The Psychology of Trading: Tools and Techniques for Minding the Markets + Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (January 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071756221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071756228
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you are trying to solve the unsolvable, stop. Read this first and you will learn that the surest path to success will be to start with yourself; solve that conundrum and challenges like understanding how you do and should react to markets will come to be solvable.”
—Marvin Zonis, Professor Emeritus, Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago

“When it comes to fast-moving global financial markets, professional investors strive to evaluate complex economic conditions from data analysis, economic reasoning, and professional judgment. This is what is taught in business schools. Denise Shull demonstrates how investment decision making is also determined by unconscious emotions and perceptions. Market Mind Games is a fascinating book that proposes a new and unexpected hypothesis about the factors that drive financial decision-making.”
—A.G. Malliaris, Professor of Economics and Finance, Loyola University Chicago

“Denise Shull’s gem of a book is long overdue. . . .[Market Mind Games] has made the ability to analyze and overcome our unconscious biases and prejudices available to everyone.”
—Dr. Donald T. Wargo, Department of Economics, Temple University

Market Mind Games is iconoclastic to say the very least! Pay attention to the last word in the subtitle: risk. This book will change your perspective on how to approach and think about the markets and your life!”
—Michael J. Levas, Founder, Senior Managing Principal, and Director of Trading, Olympian Capital Management, LLC

“Denise changes the way you look at yourself and investing. Her insights and methods are necessary to succeed in the markets, period.”
—Jared Levy, Portfolio Manager and author of Your Options Handbook

Market Mind Games offers a new school of trading psychology. Truly an important work that needs to be on the bookshelf of every serious market participant.”
—Mike Bellafiore, author of One Good Trade

“Masterful explanation of not only why emotionless trading is a myth, but how we can take advantage of our natural wiring to gain an edge.”
—Derek Hernquist, Chief Investment Officer, Integrative Capital, LLC

“Shull details ways to learn how you ‘feel’ before you ‘act’ so that your buy, sell, or hold decisions become more successful.”
—E. Bernstein, OPUS Trading

“A must-read for those who want to make their livelihood as a professional investor, trader, or algorithmic trading developer.”
—Larry Tabb, founder and CEO, Tabb Group

“Denise Shull enlightens the reader how to effectively unlock one’s psychological capital and translate that awareness into clear and concise investment decisions.”
—Grant Mashek, Managing Member, Palm Equity, LLC

“Shull’s book is not only a great read but lays out an entirely more effective approach to thinking about any decision that involves the unknown—market related or not.”
—Leslie Shaw, Ph.D., Behavioral Economics, and trained psychoanalyst

Book Description

What if the mystery of market crashes stems from a simple but total misunderstanding of our own minds? Could everything we think we know about ourselves—intelligence and rationality versus emotion and irrationality—be wildly off the mark? Simply put: yes.

With these words, Denise Shull introduces her radical—and supremely rational— approach to risk. Her vision stems from the indisputable fact that human beings can’t make any decision at all without emotion and that emotion gets the first—and last—word when it comes to our perceptions and judgments.

Shull should know. She started out managing major accounts for IBM and then chose to research unconscious emotional patterns instead of getting her MBA. Next she became a trader and trading desk manager while continuing to study biopsychology.

We are all taught that sidelining our emotions is the best way to make good decisions— Shull declares the converse: emotions inform us. Attempting to control them actually increases the risks we take. Shull advocates treating feelings as data, and she convincingly argues that doing so eradicates the baffling question that repeats itself in our heads after making a poor investing decision: “What was I thinking?”

Through a series of “lectures,” Shull logically but engagingly connects emotions, beliefs, and context to our innate reaction to uncertainty and risk (yes, the two are different). In Market Mind Games, she merges more than 20 years of studying risk decisions into a single, astoundingly effective strategy.

A reasonable approach to emotion is the best and only way to win the investing game. The methods Shull details in Market Mind Games shake the foundation of conventional market and decision psychology. And, most important, they work.

More About the Author

Honestly, I think decision making fascinated me even way back in grade school. Why did people do what they do? For awhile, with the help of a private school, I attributed the answer to something like inherent good and evil - ah the naivete of youth!

I got distracted when I wanted to earn a living but soon a promising career at IBM fell prey to my true interest - explaining my own and others' behavior. I gave up a chance to attend Stanford B School in order to put myself in a position to study psychology. It took a few years but I ended up at the "design it yourself" Master's Degree at the University of Chicago - a program that plays a role in the fictional frame MIND GAMES is built on.

What I found was how the human brain builds a labyrinth that executes perception and how that labyrinth depends on emotion. I was satisfied and took my knowledge back to the world of commerce - trading upstairs at The Chicago Board Options Exchange. Everyone used to remark how did one - a neuroscience degree and the other - trading, have anything to do with one another. I didn't know it at the time but the answer is "everything".

The maxims of decision making are wrong - control your emotions (logically you only need to control your actions) and go by the numbers (context is everything). As it turns out, our psyches are also fractal - what we learn when we are very young creates an internal mental environment that influences how we think about anything.

I still love to get my eyes on the research and for the most part, to hear academics talk. What I enjoy even more is connecting the dots between what they are finding and how we perceive, judge and decide on questions of the unknown in the real-world and in real time.

I'm lucky to be in a position where I can buck the conventional wisdom. In turn this means to my readers: be prepared, this is an unusual book. And I appreciate your interest in it!


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Customer Reviews

Mostly, the book is about the many odd ways in which the way people think diverges from what they actually do.
Stacey
I was pleasantly surprised that she uses fictional characters to convey her message, absolutely brilliant, it was very easy for me to understand the concepts.
Jim Purcaro
Denise Shull points out, with reference to new insights from behavioural finance, that it is impossible to make a decision without emotion.
Andrew Ramponi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on January 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The advice in the book is sound but too general, like face the facts and don't be stubborn. The main idea seems to be that we are human beings with emotions so we cannot shut all emotions out when trading. In my mind the book the book is possibly useful for investors as opposed to traders. It is also more useful to novice investors. (Sadly most professionals are performing poorly as well, but they can't be helped by anything.) Personally, I find the author's style meandering, too informal, and too general. We get quite a number of references to pop-science books (as opposed to more serious books), which signals to me that the author is not that well read. We often get sentences like so and so is an authority implying that something is correct. Much better would have been for the author to really engage with the argument and then add a novel interpretations or something. Call me arrogant, but why does the author put MA after her name? And why does she talk about the research she did at grad school? Come one, the author has an MA, not a PhD.

Psychology in general, and hence also investor psychology, is something personal (that's why coaches can be useful) and we can accept certain points easier if we trust the author. Personally, I prefer Steenbarger's structured, somewhat dry, three books (e.g. his latest The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist (Wiley Trading)) and I dislike Douglas's zen-like, verbose Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude, which is a favourite of many.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence on August 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First off, the title "market mind games" is completely misleading; a fact the author volunteers herself (but only in the afterword). The book has nothing to say on mind games and is not radical to anyone with more intelligence than a doorknob. A more appropriate title would be "Trading for the mentally unhinged".

I bought the book thinking it might be a journey down the rabbit hole. Instead it was a journey into the outhouse and the book stayed there for its entity like a turd that just refuses to go down the drain.

For those still wavering, I should warn you now it is written in the style of FICTION. While I applaud the author's fearlessness in pursuing this style, the characters in the story are so naive and amateurish that makes it difficult to take anything the book is saying seriously. In the end, I was rooting for them to fail but the author simply regurgitated the most clichéd Hollywood ending.

I don't expect a book to be brilliant from beginning to the end; if I learn one thing from a book then I think it is worthwhile. But my hopes dimmed when I read sentences like "The truth is: Probability tells us something - just not everything" (p16 hard cover version) highlighted in bold like it is some profound statement. I was left wondering why she didn't add "to state the obvious" just to fill up more space. But I wasn't left wondering for long. Gems like "you may think I am flogging a dead horse" (damn straight), "I really wish I have something more profound to say" (yet you wrote a book?) and, several times, "if I have heard this once I have heard it a thousand times" (so what?) confirmed my fears. I can only surmise she has to fill half the book with irrelevancies because she has nothing of actual value to say.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Bobuck on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that really should have been a magazine article. I does lay out one huge insight: that as emotional beings, we are the biggest impediments to our own trading success.

Every other word in this maddeningly over-wrought book is meant to obfuscate the victim -- er, reader -- a "snow job" I suspect that justifies her charging Wall Street trading firms big bucks for her consulting & seminar services.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Market Wizard on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think the author raises some good points, especially about thinking on the third level (i.e. not what will make this stock go up (level 1), not what will make others want to buy this stock (level 2), but what will make others think that others will want to buy this stock (3). The problem is the actual book. It is painfully verbose, I literally skip page after page because Shull likes to give 5 analogies for each point and does so with annoyingly long stories. In addition, the book is written in a lecture form where people ask her questions...this makes for an awkward read and a boring read. Useful knowledge can probably be summed up in 20-25 pages but the book is 200 pages long
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ramponi on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book challenges with sound evidence the old adage that to trade you need to control your emotions. Denise Shull points out, with reference to new insights from behavioural finance, that it is impossible to make a decision without emotion. She writes "Is the human being inferior because of emotion, or superior because of nuances in meaning that we recognise on a feeling level?"

I think Market Mind Games has begun to lift the lid on some long held, erroneous and perhaps even idiotic notions about trading and the financial markets. It sits - or would if I had the paper book rather than the kindle - shoulder to shoulder with Trading in the Zone as one of the best trading psychology books I've read.

There is an interesting narrative as a sub plot to the book which follows and describes the life and relationships of a man and his trading career. At first I thought it superfluous but by the end of the book I found myself wanting a sequel...
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