Reference Points, Loss Aversion, and Contingent Values for Auto Safety
This article is concerned with the possible role of reference points and loss aversion (as suggested by prospect theory) in subjects' judgments about the value of increments and decrements in automobile safety. The contingent valuation method is employed in two experiments, both of which consider subjects' willingness-to-pay (WTP) for increased safety and compensation demanded (CD) for decreased safety in hypothetical new vehicle purchases. The results establish that disparities exist in subjects' WTP and CD values for the same increment of auto safety, even for a close-to-market context such as hypothetical new vehicle purchases. The results also indicate that evaluations can be manipulated by changing the perception of the reference point: losses can be recast as forgone gains and forgone gains as losses, altering (or even eliminating) differences between WTP and CD values. Copyright 1992 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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