The attention–aversion gap: how allocation of attention relates to loss aversion

Lejarraga, Tomás; Schulte-Mecklenbeck, Michael; Pachur, Thorsten; Hertwig, Ralph (2019). The attention–aversion gap: how allocation of attention relates to loss aversion. Evolution and human behavior, 40(5), pp. 457-469. Elsevier 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2019.05.008

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Loss aversion is often assumed to be a basic and far-reaching psychological regularity in behavior. Yet empirical evidence is accumulating to challenge the assumption of widespread loss aversion in choice. We suggest that a key reason for the apparently elusive nature of loss aversion may be that its manifestation in choice is state-dependent and distinct from a more state-independent principle of heightened attention to losses relative to gains. Using data from process-tracing studies, we show that people invest more attentional resources when evaluating losses than when evaluating gains, even when their choices do not reflect loss aversion. Our evidence converges with previous findings on how losses influence exploratory search as well as physiological, hormonal, and neural responses. Increased attention to losses relative to gains seems to be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for loss aversion in choice.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Innovation Management > Consumer Behavior
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Mathematics and Statistics > Institute of Mathematics

UniBE Contributor:

Schulte-Mecklenbeck, Michael


600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
500 Science > 510 Mathematics








Patrick Roger Flury

Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2020 10:54

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:39

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Loss attention Loss aversion MouselabWEB process tracing


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