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

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