"The headlines say the financial crisis is behind us. The Dow is back to pre-financial crisis levels. Layoffs are the slowest since the financial crisis, and car sales the highest since the financial crisis.
So why are Americans still too scared to get back in the stock market?
Because all they hear is "financial crisis."
Every comparison to 2008, even a comparison that's supposedly good, stirs memories of 2008. For some people, it rekindles the fear of losing a job or a house. For others, years of retirement savings swallowed by a plunging stock market.
So say the experts in the budding field of behavioral finance. Professional investors and money managers may be baffled that Americans are shaking off the good news. But people with a background in psychology are hardly surprised.
A broad measure of the stock market, the Standard & Poor's 500 index, is up more than 20 percent from last October. The index has more than doubled since March 9, 2009, the low point for stocks during the Great Recession.
But everyday investors refuse to jump in. They pulled $19 billion from funds that invest in U.S. stocks in December, according to the Investment Company Institute, and $2 billion more in January."