Is “Gain” More Motivating Than “Loss” in Competition?

In this paper we examine the relative strengths of “gain” versus “loss” situations on motivation in a competitive context. Specifically, we compare the motivation after a “gain”, that is, gaining the tie status from an almost-loss situation, and after a loss, that is, being pulled equal from an almost-win situation in completion. Across 3 studies with field data, survey results, and lab experiments, we find that 1) people strongly believe that “gain” is more motivating than “loss”; 2) in terms of real motivation, “loss” is actually more motivating; and 3) people’s erroneous beliefs are partially due to habitual attention bias.


Xianchi Dai, Muyu Wei, and Ann McGill (2011) ,"Is “Gain” More Motivating Than “Loss” in Competition?", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Zhihong Yi, Jing Jian Xiao, and June Cotte and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 165-165.


Xianchi Dai, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Muyu Wei, Lingnan University
Ann McGill, University of Chicago, USA


AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Q11. The Effect of Message Ephemerality on Information Processing

Uri Barnea, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Robert Meyer, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Gideon Nave, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


Consumer Response to Innovations: The Differential Effects of Focused and Defocused Attention on Perceived Novelty, Usefulness and Symbolism

Katarina Hellén, Univeristy of Vaasa
Maria Sääksjärvi, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

Read More


How Framing Donor Match as Collaboration Impacts Donation: The Importance of In-Context Field Experiments In Fundraising

Indranil Goswami, SUNY Buffalo
Oleg Urminsky, University of Chicago, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.