Loss Aversion Under Prospect Theory: A Parameter-Free Measurement


Management Science

October 2007, vol. 53, n°10, pp.1659-1674

Departments: Economics & Decision Sciences, GREGHEC (CNRS)

A growing body of qualitative evidence shows that loss aversion, a phenomenon formalized in prospect theory, can explain a variety of field and experimental data. Quantifications of loss aversion are, however, hindered by the absence of a general preference-based method to elicit the utility for gains and losses simultaneously. This paper proposes such a method and uses it to measure loss aversion in an experimental study without making any parametric assumptions. Thus, it is the first to obtain a parameter-free elicitation of prospect theory's utility function on the whole domain. Our method also provides an efficient way to elicit utility midpoints, which are important in axiomatizations of utility. Several definitions of loss aversion have been put forward in the literature. According to most definitions we find strong evidence of loss aversion, at both the aggregate and the individual level. The degree of loss aversion varies with the definition used, which underlines the need for a commonly accepted definition of loss aversion*DEMAND (Economic theory)*UTILITY theory*UTILITY theory -- Mathematical models*VALUE*EXPECTED utilityLOSS aversionPROSPECT theory