Bipolar Scales Mask Loss Aversion

Loss aversion in choices is commonly assumed to arise from the anticipation that losses will have a greater effect on feelings than equivalent gains. But evidence for loss aversion in feelings has been equivocal. We contend that loss aversion is masked in bipolar scales, because people rate opposite-valence outcomes separately on the positive and negative portions of the scale such that positive and negative outcomes are not compared directly. We show that when people comparatively judge their feelings about positive and negative outcomes using the same category units of intensity, loss aversion emerges and predicts risky choice.


A. Peter McGraw, Jeff T. Larsen, Daniel Kahneman, and David Schkade (2008) ,"Bipolar Scales Mask Loss Aversion", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 707-709.


A. Peter McGraw, University of Colorado, Boulder
Jeff T. Larsen, Texas Tech University
Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University
David Schkade, University of California, San Diego


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35 | 2008

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Out of Your League: Women’s Luxury Products as Signals to Men

Yajin Wang, University of Maryland, USA
Vladas Griskevicius, University of Minnesota, USA
Qihui Chen, Peking University

Read More


So-Bad-It’s-Good: When Consumers Prefer Bad Options

Evan Weingarten, University of California San Diego, USA
Amit Bhattacharjee, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Patti Williams, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read More


The Impact of Price and Size Comparisons on Consumer Perception and Choice

Jun Yao, Macquarie University, Australia
Harmen Oppewal, Monash University, Australia
Yongfu He, Monash University, Australia

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.