Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?

  • Author(s): Terrance Odean
  • Published: Dec 17, 2002
  • Pages: 1775-1798
  • DOI: 10.1111/0022-1082.00072


I test the disposition effect, the tendency of investors to hold losing investments too long and sell winning investments too soon, by analyzing trading records for 10,000 accounts at a large discount brokerage house. These investors demonstrate a strong preference for realizing winners rather than losers. Their behavior does not appear to be motivated by a desire to rebalance portfolios, or to avoid the higher trading costs of low priced stocks. Nor is it justified by subsequent portfolio performance. For taxable investments, it is suboptimal and leads to lower after‐tax returns. Tax‐motivated selling is most evident in December.

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