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Overconfidence bias

What is overconfidence bias?

Wooden brain with words overconfidence bias on the desk.

Caption: Overconfidence bias could make us think we are more talented than we are. Photo: Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock

Overconfidence bias is the tendency to overestimate one’s own abilities and knowledge, leading to overconfidence in decision making. The overconfidence bias in finance could be detrimental for traders, as it could cause them to make mistakes which, in turn, could lead to them making losses.


  • Overconfidence bias takes place when someone overestimates their own skill and knowledge, which can lead to them making mistakes. 

  • Types of overconfidence include wishful thinking, the illusion of control, timing optimism and over ranking.

  • In trading, overconfidence bias could lead to traders losing money.

  • Making notes of trades and their results and doing proper research, among other tactics, could help counteract overconfidence bias.

Causes of overconfidence bias

In order to define overconfidence bias, it is important to understand some of the causes. These could include:

Types of overconfidence bias

Overconfidence can come in various forms, including:

This type of overconfidence bias refers to the belief that someone has more control over a situation than they actually do. In trading, it could lead to traders believing they can control the market, when they can’t.

This refers to the belief that someone is more talented than they actually are. This is pretty common, largely because no one wants to believe that they are below average. In trading, this could lead to traders making trades based on overly optimistic forecasts, culminating in potential losses.

This is when someone incorrectly thinks they could do work far quicker than they actually are able to. This relates to trading when traders think that a trade or investment would pay off far quicker than it actually could. 

Perhaps better known as wishful thinking, this is when someone thinks that something is going to happen, purely because they want it to happen.  

Overconfidence bias examples

These are some hypothetical cases where trades could go wrong because traders have fallen victim to the overconfidence effect:

An example of overconfidence bias in trading is when a trader believes an asset will continue to move in a way that benefits them, despite receiving negative news or signals. 

Let’s imagine, a trader once made a profit when going long on a contract for difference (CFD) on Amazon (AMZN) shares. They now feel confident the price will likely continue rising, leading them to hold onto the position for too long, meaning that when its price trajectory changes there are significant losses.

Overconfidence could lead traders to ignore potential risks associated with an investment. For example, they may ignore the risk associated with a particular sector or industry and trade heavily in it. This could lead to significant losses if the sector or industry experiences a market correction.

Overconfidence bias could make traders believe that they may make quick profits through frequent trading. They may take more risks than they should and trade too frequently, leading to high transaction costs and lower returns. Overtrading could also lead to a lack of discipline in trading and increased susceptibility to making mistakes.

Overconfidence bias may be linked to confirmation bias, where people seek out information that supports their beliefs while ignoring information that contradicts them. This could result in traders ignoring or missing important information and making decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information,potentially leading to losses.

How to counteract overconfidence bias

There are ways people can consider if they want to overcome and counteract overconfidence bias. These could include:


A simple overconfidence bias definition is that it is the tendency to overestimate one’s abilities, knowledge, or judgement, that could potentially lead to excessive confidence and risk-taking and result in significant losses. Traders and investors should be aware of the different types of overconfidence and take steps to avoid them, such as seeking out diverse sources of information, avoiding making trades based on emotions, and regularly reassessing their investment strategies.

By doing so, traders could minimise the risk of overconfidence bias and make more informed trading decisions.


What is overconfidence bias in simple terms?

Overconfidence bias is the tendency of people to think that they are more talented or knowledgeable than they actually are.

What is an example of overconfidence bias?

An example of overconfidence could be when someone continues to trade in one direction and ignores the signs that the market is moving in another direction because they overestimate their abilities.

What are the types of overconfidence?

Some types of overconfidence include wishful thinking, the illusion of control, timing optimism and over ranking.

Is overconfidence good or bad?

Overconfidence is a cognitive bias, which could lead to traders making mistakes.

What is the impact of overconfidence bias?

The impact of overconfidence bias could be that a trader makes errors, causing them to make a loss, because they had overestimated their own abilities.

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