Loss aversion (and related phenomena like the endowment effect) are somewhat controversial, it seems; from Wikipedia:

Recently, studies have questioned the existence of loss aversion. In several studies examining the effect of losses in decision making under risk and uncertainty no loss aversion was found.[6] There are several explanations for these findings: one, is that loss aversion does not exist in small payoff magnitudes; the other, is that the generality of the loss aversion pattern is lower than that thought previously. Finally, losses may have an effect on attention but not on the weighting of outcomes; as suggested, for instance, by the fact that losses lead to more autonomic arousal than gains even in the absence of loss aversion.[7] This latter effect is sometimes known as Loss Attention.[8] Even in a non-risky domain, prospective affective judgments about gains and losses show that loss aversion is magnitude dependent such that for low magnitudes there is no loss aversion [9]

Loss aversion may be more salient when people compete. Gill and Prowse (2012) provide experimental evidence that people are loss averse around reference points given by their expectations in a competitive environment with real effort.[10]

David Gal (2006) argued that many of the phenomena commonly attributed to loss aversion, including the status quo bias, the endowment effect, and the preference for safe over risky options, are more parsimoniously explained by inertia than by a loss/gain asymmetry. Gal and Rucker (2018) made similar arguments.[11][12]

So, are there some areas/contexts in which loss aversion isn't controversial? Large payoffs for instance? And are there enough studies to reliably conclude anything, e.g. via meta-analyses (say with moderator analysis)?


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