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A psychological law of inertia and the illusion of loss aversion

  • David Gal
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    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

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    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 1 (2006)
    Issue (Month): (July)
    Pages: 23-32

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:1:y:2006:i::p:23-32
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    1. 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.
    2. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
    3. Dhar, Ravi, 1997. " Consumer Preference for a No-Choice Option," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 215-31, September.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    5. 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 1325-48, December.
    6. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
    7. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    8. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 2002. "The Equity Premium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 637-659, 04.
    9. Bettman, James R & Luce, Mary Frances & Payne, John W, 1998. " Constructive Consumer Choice Processes," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(3), pages 187-217, December.
    10. 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 115-33, October.
    11. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
    12. 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.
    13. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
    14. Daniel S. Putler, 1992. "Incorporating Reference Price Effects into a Theory of Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 287-309.
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