Predicting the intensity of losses vs. non-gains and non-losses vs. gains in judging fairness and value: A test of the loss aversion explanation

Nira Liberman*, Lorraine Chen Idson, E. Tory Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three studies examined the predictions that in the context of evaluation of fairness and concessions in negotiations, losses would be perceived as more intensely negative than non-gains, and that non-losses would be perceived as more positive than gains. Extant studies tested only the first of these predictions. These predictions derive from the principle of loss aversion (LA), according to which losses are experienced more intensely than gains of similar objective magnitude. In this view, losses and non-losses are measured against the steep loss part of the value curve, whereas gains and non-gains are measured against the shallow part of the value curve. Our studies replicated extant studies in confirming the first prediction but failed to confirm the second prediction. Specifically, opposite to the prediction of LA, gains were perceived as more intensely positive than non-losses. It seems, therefore, that LA is not a sufficient explanation of why losses are perceived as more averse than gains. Feature positive and regulatory focus effects are discussed as additional potential contributors to the phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-534
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume41
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthMH 39429

    Keywords

    • Framing of outcomes
    • Loss aversion
    • Prospect theory
    • Regulatory fit
    • Regulatory focus
    • Subjective value

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