Losses loom more likely than gains: Propensity to imagine losses increases their subjective probability
AbstractLosses loom larger than gains. The typical interpretation of loss aversion involves a subjective value-based asymmetry between gains and losses, with individuals expecting losses to be more painful than gains of equal size to be pleasurable. This paper reveals a novel, subjective probability-based asymmetry between gains and losses that may contribute to loss aversion in risky choice. Results from five experiments suggest that losses may loom not only larger, but also more likely than gains. The propensity of losses to attract attention and to be subsequently imagined appears to underlie the proposed asymmetry. The effect translates into changes in predicted behavior, with subjective probability mediating the impact of imagination on the predicted likelihood to accept to play an equal-probability gamble. The implications of our findings for loss aversion, the negativity bias, and the imagination literature are discussed.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
Volume (Year): 118 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/obhdp
Loss aversion; Subjective probability; Asymmetry; Attention; Imagination; Negativity bias;
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Eric Johnson & Simon Gaechter & Andreas Herrmann, 2006.
"Exploring the Nature of Loss Aversion,"
2006-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
- Eric Johnson & Simon Gaechter & Andreas Herrmann, 2006. "Exploring the Nature of Loss Aversion," Discussion Papers 2006-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
- Johnson, Eric J. & Gächter, Simon & Herrmann, Andreas, 2006. "Exploring the Nature of Loss Aversion," IZA Discussion Papers 2015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Harless, David W & Camerer, Colin F, 1994. "The Predictive Utility of Generalized Expected Utility Theories," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1251-89, November.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005.
"A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences,"
784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
- Lyle Brenner & Yuval Rottenstreich & Sanjay Sood & Baler Bilgin, 2007. "On the Psychology of Loss Aversion: Possession, Valence, and Reversals of the Endowment Effect," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 369-376, 05.
- Strahilevitz, Michal A & Loewenstein, George, 1998. " The Effect of Ownership History on the Valuation of Objects," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(3), pages 276-89, December.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- Carmon, Ziv & Ariely, Dan, 2000. " Focusing on the Forgone: How Value Can Appear So Different to Buyers and Sellers," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 360-70, December.
- Knetsch, Jack L. & Wong, Wei-Kang, 2009. "The endowment effect and the reference state: Evidence and manipulations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 407-413, August.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
- Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2000. "Parameter-Free Elicitation of Utility and Probability Weighting Functions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(11), pages 1497-1512, November.
- Keith M. Marzilli Ericson & Andreas Fuster, 2011. "Expectations as Endowments: Evidence on Reference-Dependent Preferences from Exchange and Valuation Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1879-1907.
- Nathalie Etchart-Vincent, 2004. "Is Probability Weighting Sensitive to the Magnitude of Consequences? An Experimental Investigation on Losses," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 217-235, 05.
- Shiv, Baba & Huber, Joel, 2000. " The Impact of Anticipating Satisfaction on Consumer Choice," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 202-16, September.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.