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A psychological law of inertia and the illusion of loss aversion

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  • David Gal

Abstract

The principle of loss aversion is thought to explain a wide range of anomalous phenomena involving tradeoffs between losses and gains. In this article, I show that the anomalies loss aversion was introduced to explain --- the risky bet premium, the endowment effect, and the status-quo bias --- are characterized not only by a loss/gain tradeoff, but by a tradeoff between the status-quo and change; and, that a propensity towards the status-quo in the latter tradeoff is sufficient to explain these phenomena. Moreover, I show that two basic psychological principles --- (1) that motives drive behavior; and (2) that preferences tend to be fuzzy and ill-defined --- imply the existence of a robust and fundamental propensity of this sort. Thus, a loss aversion principle is rendered superfluous to an account of the phenomena it was

Suggested Citation

  • David Gal, 2006. "A psychological law of inertia and the illusion of loss aversion," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 23-32, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:1:y:2006:i::p:23-32
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
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    6. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    7. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-1348, December.
    8. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    9. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    10. Strahilevitz, Michal A & Loewenstein, George, 1998. " The Effect of Ownership History on the Valuation of Objects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 276-289, December.
    11. Bettman, James R & Luce, Mary Frances & Payne, John W, 1998. " Constructive Consumer Choice Processes," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 187-217, December.
    12. Dubourg, W R & Jones-Lee, M W & Loomes, Graham, 1994. "Imprecise Preferences and the WTP-WTA Disparity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 115-133, October.
    13. David R. Bell & James M. Lattin, 2000. "Looking for Loss Aversion in Scanner Panel Data: The Confounding Effect of Price Response Heterogeneity," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(2), pages 185-200, May.
    14. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kenneth Gillingham & Karen Palmer, 2014. "Bridging the Energy Efficiency Gap: Policy Insights from Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 8(1), pages 18-38, January.
    2. Konstantinos V. Katsikopoulos & Cherng-Horng (Dan) Lan, 2011. "Herbert Simon’s spell on judgment and decision making," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(8), pages 722-732, December.
    3. Oben K Bayrak & Bengt Kriström, 2016. "Is there a valuation gap? The case of interval valuations," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(1), pages 218-236.
    4. David Hirshleife, 2015. "Behavioral Finance," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 133-159, December.
    5. Greene, David L., 2011. "Uncertainty, loss aversion, and markets for energy efficiency," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 608-616, July.
    6. Kanev, Dimitar, 2016. "Неравенство И Образование. Роля На Ограничената Рационалност И Дефектите На Самоконтрола
      [Inequality and education. The role of bounded rationality and defects of self-control]
      ," MPRA Paper 77292, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. T. Andrew Poehlman & Ravi Dhar & John A. Bargh, 2016. "Sophisticated by Design: the Nonconscious Influence of Primed Concepts and Atmospheric Variables on Consumer Preferences," Customer Needs and Solutions, Springer;Institute for Sustainable Innovation and Growth (iSIG), vol. 3(1), pages 48-61, March.
    8. Malul, Miki & Rosenboim, Mosi & Shavit, Tal, 2013. "So when are you loss averse? Testing the S-shaped function in pricing and allocation tasks," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 101-112.
    9. Robert Reilly & Douglas Davis, 2015. "The effects of uncertainty on the WTA–WTP gap," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 78(2), pages 261-272, February.

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