Mittwoch, 19. März 2014

Economic Decision Biases and Fundamental Motivations: How Mating and Self-Protection Alter Loss Aversion

Y J Li, D T Kenrick, S L Neuberg, and Vladas Griskevicius (2012)


Much research shows that people are loss averse, meaning that they weigh losses more heavily than gains. Drawing on an evolutionary perspective, we propose that although loss aversion might have been adaptive for solving challenges in the domain of self-protection, this may not be true for men in the domain of mating. Three experiments examine how loss aversion is influenced by mating and self-protection motives. Findings reveal that mating motives selectively erased loss aversion in men. In contrast, self-protective motives led both men and women to become more loss averse. Overall, loss aversion appears to be sensitive to evolutionarily important motives, suggesting that it may be a domain-specific bias operating according to an adaptive logic of recurring threats and opportunities in different evolutionary domains.


"Much past research shows that humans are loss averse, with the notion that people weigh losses more strongly than gains generally considered to be a domain-general bias. However, an evolutionary perspective suggests that loss aversion might be an adaptive bias in some life domains but not in others. We proposed that loss aversion is likely to have been adaptive for solving challenges in self-protection but not for solving challenges related to mate seeking, especially for men.
Our findings support this proposal. Across three studies, activating a mating motivation selectively erased loss aversion for men. Mating motivation had no such effect on women’s gain–loss preferences."

"An interesting note is that, across the three studies, there was a trend for women to become slightly more loss averse in mating compared to a neutral control condition."

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