Loss Aversion Fails to Replicate in the Coronavirus Pandemic: Evidence from An Online Experiment

17 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2020

See all articles by Michael Sanders

Michael Sanders

King's College London

Emma Stockdale

King's College London

Susannah Hume

King's College London

Peter John

Department of Political Economy, KCL; University College London - School of Public Policy

Date Written: July 6, 2020

Abstract

Loss aversion is one of the foundational phenomena in behavioural economics and behavioural science. It is also one of the most widely replicated in basic science studies, and one which has found a regular use in behavioural public administration. It is therefore a natural choice for interventions aiming to encourage compliance with rules put in place to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. We compare the effectiveness of loss and gain messages in the context of COVID-19 in the UK. We find no differences in intention to comply with guidance, or belief about how long the lockdown should continue, comparing a gain and loss framed message. We suggest reasons why this might be the case, including the heightened emotional valence of the pandemic.

Note: Funding: This work was supported by King’s College London as part of the King’s Together COV-2 funding call. The funder had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, writing of the report or decision to submit the article for publication.

Competing interest: There are no competing interests.

Keywords: Loss Aversion; COVID-19; Framing; Prospect Theory; Behavioural

Suggested Citation

Sanders, Michael and Stockdale, Emma and Hume, Susannah and John, Peter, Loss Aversion Fails to Replicate in the Coronavirus Pandemic: Evidence from An Online Experiment (July 6, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3644149 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3644149

Michael Sanders (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Emma Stockdale

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Susannah Hume

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Peter John

Department of Political Economy, KCL ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

University College London - School of Public Policy ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

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