Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Core Self-Evaluations and Trading Success

A fascinating study tracked 7000 young people over a 25 year period to examine their success during the middle of their careers. The researchers found that young people who exhibited positive core self-evaluations earned significantly more than their lower self esteem counterparts. Family socioeconomic status and academic achievement were also positively correlated with career success decades later.

Perhaps the most striking finding was that self-evaluations facilitated success by enabling young people to take advantage of their socioeconomic and educational advantages. When those advantages were present among lower self-esteem individuals, higher incomes were not achieved.

In this study, self-esteem was one element of core self-evaluations. Also included were self-efficacy (belief that one can achieve one's goals); emotional stability; and locus of control (the degree to which one perceives an ability to control life outcomes).

The authors stress that we need certain advantages to achieve success (socioeconomic advantages, educational attainment), but that we also need to view ourselves in ways that enable us to make use of these advantages.

Interestingly, the authors suggest that those with low core self-evaluations may avoid opportunities, simply because these could be threatening to their self-views.

The implication for trading is that two traders could begin with the same "edge" in the markets--the same ideas, the same trading system--and achieve very different results based upon their core self-evaluations. It is difficult to imagine a trader taking advantage of an edge if he or she did not truly experience themselves as worthy and efficacious.

Perhaps this is why research finds that the four dimensions of core self-evaluations are highly correlated with job satisfaction and job performance. When we think we can make a difference, we are most likely to pour ourselves into our work and find it fulfilling. Perhaps, too, this is why so few traders succeed in making trading a career: their learning process undercuts, rather than boosts, their core self-evaluations by failing to structure the learning in a way that promotes experiences of mastery.


Building Self-Efficacy

Goal-Setting For Traders