What Is the Fear and Greed Index and How to Use It in Crypto Trading?

What Is the Fear and Greed Index and How to Use It in Crypto Trading?

Learn the ins and outs of the Fear & Greed Index and apply its market sentiment measures to your crypto trading strategy.

Year after year, the crypto world has shown us that it is largely dominated by market sentiment. Greed typically leads to bullish patterns, whereas fear leads to negative trends. Human psychology is predictably logical because many individuals behave similarly under particular situations. This is what market sentiment analysis tries to detect. It considers human psychology and assesses the market's mood.


The Fear and Greed Index tries to address and quantify market sentiment, making it useful for traders and easy to understand. Let’s get started and learn how it works, as well as how you can use it in crypto trading.


What Is the Crypto Fear and Greed Index?

The Fear and Greed Index is a market sentiment indicator that works based on the assumption that people are emotional and irrational. It was created by trader Bill Williams who noticed that people tend to act irrationally when afraid or greedy.


Williams noticed this pattern in both the stock and cryptocurrency markets. The Fear and Greed Index has made its way into modern culture, with crypto investors actively incorporating it in their trading strategies.


The Crypto Fear and Greed Index, based on Bitcoin and other significant cryptocurrencies, combines social signals and market patterns to estimate the overall mood of the crypto market. It's an index since it integrates several data sources into a single figure.


It assigns a score from 0 to 100 to crypto sentiment, ranging from extreme fear to extreme greed. Many cryptocurrency traders use the index to determine the best time to enter and exit the crypto market.


When uncertainty hits the cryptocurrency market, traders often perceive it as as a great place to dollar-cost average into their positions. On the other hand, overwhelming greed in the market is often a good indicator of a soon-to-come price drop, as well as a good place to start cashing in the gains. 


Besides its absolute figures, traders use the Fear and Greed index to track sudden sentiment changes that may indicate short or long-term trend changes. 


How Is the Crypto Fear & Greed Index Calculated?

The Fear and Greed Index is a sentiment index that is based on the volume of tweets, blog posts, and news articles that mention Bitcoin. It is calculated by taking the ratio of the number of positive mentions to the number of negative ones.


Ned Davis Research developed the F&G index to quantify public sentiment towards Bitcoin. The F&G Index also has a sister index called the Wall Street Bull or WSB, which measures bullish sentiment in stocks.


The Fear & Greed Index can be calculated by taking a ratio between the number of positive mentions to negative ones. It should be noted that this index does not measure value or price movements for Bitcoin.


Why Measure Fear and Greed?

The cryptocurrency market is highly emotional. When the market is bullish, people become greedy, resulting in FOMO (fear of missing out). On the other hand, people frequently sell their coins as an impulsive response to seeing red numbers, resulting in FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). F&G Index aims to safeguard you from emotional overreactions. Traders often make two straightforward assumptions:


  • Extreme Fear: This might indicate that investors are too concerned. That might be a good time to buy.

  • Extreme Greed: When investors are in a state of extreme greed, the market is ripe for a correction.


As a result, the Fear and Greed Index examines the current state of the Bitcoin market and converts the data into a simple meter ranging from 0 to 100. Zero represents "Extreme Fear," whereas 100 represents "Extreme Greed."


Fear & Greed Index: How It Works

Every day, Alternative.me generates a new value ranging from 0 to 100. Currently, the crypto Fear and Greed index analyzes BTC-related data. They solely use Bitcoin data because of its price and sentiment connection with the whole market. The index's scale is broken into the following categories:


  • 0-24: Extreme fear

  • 25-49: Fear

  • 50-74: Greed

  • 75-100: Extreme greed


Fear and Greed Index | Source: Alternative.me

Cryptocurrency Fear & Greed Index | Source: Alternative.me


The Crypto Fear & Greed Index is provided by a website called Alternative.me. It is a platform that provides a range of tools and insights for investors and traders, including the Fear & Greed Index for the crypto markets. Alternative.me uses various data sources to calculate the Fear & Greed Index as a measure of the market's overall sentiment towards cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin.


This index is calculated by weighing five key market variables. Let's go through the five market criteria that are weighted.


Volatility (25%)

As a trader, it's important to understand volatility because it can be indicative of market sentiment. In traditional finance, as well as in the crypto space, large price swings and fluctuations often signify a highly volatile market, which is generally driven by emotional factors. High volatility often indicates fear in the market as investors are less likely to take on risk, while a market with low volatility is typically a signal of more stable investor sentiment. In the Crypto Fear & Greed Index, volatility is calculated by averaging the significant price fluctuations of Bitcoin over the past 30 and 90 days.


Market Momentum and Volume (25%)

Market momentum refers to the speed at which the price of an asset, like Bitcoin, increases or decreases for a set of returns. Trading volume, on the other hand, refers to the number of shares or contracts traded in a security or market during a given period. When Bitcoin's current trading volume and momentum are high, it often signifies a bullish market sentiment. Conversely, low volume and momentum could indicate bearish sentiment. Both these aspects contribute to a quarter of the Crypto Fear & Greed Index's total score.


Social Media (15%) 

Never underestimate the power of social media in shaping market sentiment. Platforms like Twitter are full of investors and traders discussing the latest news and trends in the crypto space. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index quantifies this chatter by examining the volume and sentiment of Bitcoin-related posts. If more people are posting positive comments about Bitcoin, it could indicate greed in the market, while negative posts could signal fear.


Dominance (10%)

The term 'Bitcoin dominance' refers to the percentage of the total cryptocurrency market cap that is dominated by Bitcoin. This indicator can provide a broad overview of the sentiment towards Bitcoin relative to other cryptocurrencies. When Bitcoin dominance is high, it suggests that the market has a bullish sentiment towards Bitcoin and a bearish sentiment towards altcoins, and vice versa.


Trends (10%) 

Search trends on platforms like Google can provide insightful data into what people are interested in. An increase in search queries related to Bitcoin indicates increased interest or concern about Bitcoin’s price and can thus be used as an indicator of market sentiment. For example, an increased search volume for terms like 'Bitcoin fraud' or 'Bitcoin crash' could indicate fear in the market, which is factored into the Crypto Fear & Greed Index.


Surveys (15%)

Surveys are a direct way to gauge market sentiment. By questioning a sample of investors and traders about their sentiment towards the current market, the index can gain insights into whether the majority are feeling fearful or greedy. While we don't have up-to-date information on the use of surveys in the index calculation, it's worth noting that as of my last update in 2021, this method contributed 15% to the total index score. However, surveys are currently not taken into account when calculating the fear and greed index. 

Understanding these indicators will give you a solid foundation for interpreting the Crypto Fear & Greed Index. By combining these different factors, the index provides a simplified gauge of the overall sentiment in the Bitcoin market. 


How to Use the Fear and Greed Index In Crypto Trading 

The crypto Fear and Greed index could be more effective for the short-term study of the cryptocurrency market. Numerous cycles of Fear and Greed may occur within a bull or bear run.


For swing traders, the Fear and Greed index is a very beneficial tool when paired up with technical analysis tools such as Fibonacci retracements, as well as other market indicators and oscillators. 


However, the index has been proven inaccurate when predicting long-term market reversals or transitions from bull to bear market, and vice versa. 


Can You Predict the Market Using the Crypto Fear and Greed Index?

The crypto Fear and Greed Index is an outstanding predictor of when a local bottom in crypto prices has developed and when a rally may emerge. It is an excellent instrument for timing a shift in short-term market mood and the consequent reversal of crypto prices in the right hands.


As the index reaches the extreme fear zone, it tends to reverse. This is when anxiety transforms into very early indicators of greed before entering full-fledged greed territory. The cryptocurrency Fear and Greed Index might help track market mood shifts.


Large movements may allow one to enter or exit the market before the rest of the market follows suit. The index is less effective for long-term examination of crypto market eras. There are periodic bouts of anxiety inside a long-term bull or bear run, as well as bouts of greed within a bear run. This is why swing traders tend to benefit most from these moves.


Long-term investors might not benefit from the index. Although, within a long market trend, there are multiple fear and greed price fluctuations that a day-to-day trader might benefit from.


Balancing Greed and Fear to be A Successful Trader

There are three steps any trader can implement to balance greed and fear, regardless of varying market conditions:


  1. Having a trading plan

  2. Having a trading journal 

  3. Learning from successful traders


Without a plan, anything goes. As a trader, having a trading plan and sticking to it can help you take calculated risks, understand when to enter and exit a market, remain focused, and hit your goals, regardless of the constantly changing market conditions. A trading plan helps you know your limits and boundaries, and will often keep your emotions in check.


Recording your trades in a journal keeps you informed and updated on strategies and decisions that are working for you and those that aren't. This helps you make informed decisions. It shows you when you are on the right track and when you are deviating. A trading journal alongside a trading plan, with a sprinkle of discipline will help you balance your emotions in the market.


Someone has most likely walked the path you are currently walking, or has reached the result you currently seek. Learning from other successful traders can help you know what works and what doesn't, it can expose you to a stronger trading psychology that helps you stay disciplined and get the same result you desire. Learning from others better than you, having them as mentors, and following their footsteps has never been a bad idea.


Additional Tips For Using the Fear and Greed Index

Navigating the volatility and the emotional roller coaster that often comes with the cryptocurrency market can be daunting. That's where the Crypto Fear and Greed Index comes in, providing you with an insightful tool to help decipher the market's sentiment and hint at potential buying or selling opportunities.


This index simplifies complex market data by incorporating numerous social factors related to the crypto market. It provides an intelligent gauge of the prevailing undercurrent of fear and greed driving the market, translating this into a score you can readily understand. This score lets you quickly grasp the overall market sentiment, aiding you in making more informed investment decisions.


But remember, the Crypto Fear and Greed Index isn't a standalone tool. It truly shines when it's part of a comprehensive trading strategy, one that includes other indicators and technical analysis tools. Combining these elements can give you a more rounded picture of market trends and potential opportunities.


It's also crucial to bear in mind that the Fear and Greed Index, like any other market sentiment analysis tool, isn't a foolproof predictor of market movements. You should always consider other factors, like market news, analysis from various sources, and your personal investment objectives and risk tolerance.


Successful crypto trading isn't just about having the right tools and strategies. It's also about mastering your own emotions, maintaining discipline, and sticking to a well-structured trading plan. Keeping a trading journal can be a powerful tool for reflection and continuous refinement of your strategies. And don't forget the value of learning from those who have walked this path before you. Their insights can be invaluable and save you from potential pitfalls.



In conclusion, the Crypto Fear and Greed Index is a powerful tool in your trading toolbox, but it needs to be used wisely, paired with a solid trading strategy, consistent discipline, and an attitude of continuous learning. By combining all these, you can increase your chances of success in the thrilling yet challenging world of cryptocurrency trading.