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Snap Judgment: When to Trust Your Instincts, When to Ignore Them, and How to Avoid Making Big Mistakes with Your Money by David E. Adler

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6. The Psychology of Selecting Mutual Funds

How do we pick a particular mutual fund to invest in? The answer is very simple: Its performance last year, last quarter, or even last month. Of course, advertising helps, too, but “returns-chasing behavior” as it is technically known, pretty much captures our actions when it comes to mutual fund choices. The #1 fund in the country last year in terms of performance will be near or at the top of mutual funds attracting the most new investment dollars.

And performance here means absolute raw performance, not adjusted for risks, fees, taxes, or compared to a benchmark such as the S&P 500. If it makes more money than we paid for it, we see it as a winner, even if the S&P did much better. Alternatively, ...

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