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Loss Aversion and Consumption Choice: Theory and Experimental Evidence

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  • Heiko Karle
  • Georg Kirchsteiger
  • Martin Peitz

Abstract

We analyze a consumer-choice model with price uncertainty, loss aversion, and expectation-based reference points. The implications of this model are tested in an experiment in which participants have to make a consumption choice between two sandwiches. Participants differ in their reported taste for the two sandwiches and in their degree of loss aversion, which we measure separately. We find that more-loss-averse participants are more likely to opt for the cheaper sandwich, in line with theoretical predictions. The estimates in the model with rational expectations are slightly more significant than those with naïve expectations. (JEL D11, D12, D84, M31)

Suggested Citation

  • Heiko Karle & Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Peitz, 2015. "Loss Aversion and Consumption Choice: Theory and Experimental Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 101-120, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:7:y:2015:i:2:p:101-20
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.20130104
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jidong Zhou, 2011. "Reference Dependence and Market Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(4), pages 1073-1097, December.
    2. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    3. 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.
    4. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    5. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
    6. Heiko Karle, 2013. "Creating Attachment through Advertising: Loss Aversion and Pre–Purchase Information," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 13/177, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    7. Heiko Karle & Martin Peitz, 2014. "Competition under consumer loss aversion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(1), pages 1-31, March.
    8. Thierry Post & Martijn J. van den Assem & Guido Baltussen & Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 38-71, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ghidoni, Riccardo & Calzolari, Giacomo & Casari, Marco, 2017. "Climate change: Behavioral responses from extreme events and delayed damages," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S1), pages 103-115.
    2. Bhalotra, Sonia & Chakravarty, Abhishek & Gulesci, Selim, 2020. "The price of gold: Dowry and death in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    3. Karle, Heiko & Peitz, Martin, 2017. "De-targeting: Advertising an assortment of products to loss-averse consumers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 103-124.
    4. Rosato, Antonio & Tymula, Agnieszka A., 2019. "Loss aversion and competition in Vickrey auctions: Money ain't no good," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 188-208.
    5. Ahrens, Steffen & Pirschel, Inske & Snower, Dennis J., 2017. "A theory of price adjustment under loss aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 78-95.
    6. Bahamonde-Birke, Francisco J., 2018. "Estimating the reference frame: A smooth twice-differentiable utility function for non-compensatory loss-averse decision-making," Journal of choice modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 71-81.
    7. Francesco Cerigioni, 2016. "Dual Decision Processes: Retrieving Preferences when some Choices are Automatic," Working Papers 924, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Antonio Rosato, 2016. "Selling substitute goods to loss-averse consumers: limited availability, bargains, and rip-offs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(3), pages 709-733, August.
    9. Heiko Karle & Martin Peitz, 2014. "Competition under consumer loss aversion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(1), pages 1-31, March.
    10. Immanuel Lampe & Daniel Würtenberger, 2019. "Loss Aversion And The Demand For Index Insurance," Working Papers on Finance 1907, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
    11. Wenner, Lukas M., 2015. "Expected prices as reference points—Theory and experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 60-79.
    12. Wenner, Lukas, 2014. "Expected prices as reference points: Theory and experiments," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2014-306, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    13. Macera, Rosario, 2018. "Intertemporal incentives under loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 551-594.
    14. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2018. "Optimal task assignments with loss-averse agents," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-26.
    15. Rosato, Antonio, 2017. "Sequential negotiations with loss-averse buyers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 290-304.
    16. Herweg, Fabian & Karle, Heiko & Müller, Daniel, 2018. "Incomplete contracting, renegotiation, and expectation-based loss aversion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 176-201.
    17. Dato, Simon & Grunewald, Andreas & Müller, Daniel & Strack, Philipp, 2017. "Expectation-based loss aversion and strategic interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 681-705.
    18. Rosato, Antonio, 2014. "Loss Aversion in Sequential Auctions: Endogenous Interdependence, Informational Externalities and the "Afternoon Effect"," MPRA Paper 56824, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Freeman, David J., 2017. "Preferred personal equilibrium and simple choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 165-172.
    20. Jean-Michel Benkert, 2015. "Bilateral trade with loss-averse agents," ECON - Working Papers 188, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Sep 2016.
    21. Macera, Rosario, 2018. "Present or future incentives? On the optimality of fixed wages with moral hazard," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 129-144.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing

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