Thirty-six percent of the 1,019 investors that Edward Jones surveyed said they believe technology will be the best-performing sector in 2011, and 31% are betting on gold.

However, among female investors, 40% expect technology stocks to deliver the best returns, and among men, 37% indicated they believe gold will be this year’s winner.

Among those 18 to 34, a considerably larger amount, 47%, were bullish on technology stocks. In addition, 42% of those in the West said they are optimistic about investing in technology this year.

The outlook for blue-chip stocks is poor, with only 10% of investors expecting this category to deliver the best results in 2011.

But Kate Warne, an investment strategist with Edward Jones, warned of gold’s volatility. “While Americans believe that technology stocks and gold will perform the best this year,” Warne said, “it’s important that they keep a diversified and balanced portfolio despite their predictions. What seems likely to perform best at the beginning of the year may stumble. Unpredictable events highlight the need for broad diversification.”

Warne added: “Our research of gold’s performance since 1970 indicates that gold tends to fall as quickly as it rises, and over longer-term periods, it fails to match the performance of stocks as represented by the S&P 500.”