Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes

48 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2009  

Devin G. Pope

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: June 13, 2009

Abstract

Although experimental studies have documented systematic decision errors, many leading scholars believe that experience, competition, and large stakes will reliably extinguish biases. We test for the presence of a fundamental bias, loss aversion, in a high-stakes context: professional golfers’ performance on the PGA TOUR. Golf provides a natural setting to test for loss aversion because golfers are rewarded for the total number of strokes they take during a tournament, yet each individual hole has a salient reference point, par. We analyze over 1.6 million putts using precise laser measurements and find evidence that even the best golfers - including Tiger Woods - show evidence of loss aversion. On average, this bias costs the best golfers over $1.2 million in tournament winnings per year.

Keywords: Loss Aversion, Behavioral Economics

Suggested Citation

Pope, Devin G. and Schweitzer, Maurice E., Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes (June 13, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1419027 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1419027

Devin G. Pope (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

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