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The role of potential loss in the influence of affect on risk-taking behavior

Authors
Journal
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
0749-5978
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
42
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0749-5978(88)90011-8

Abstract

Abstract In three experiments the influence of positive affect on risk-taking behavior was examined. In Experiment 1 subjects who received a free gift of candy, compared to those in a control group, were willing to pay increasingly more for lottery tickets as the prize rose from $10 to $90 and as the probability of winning rose from .10 to .90. In Experiment 2 subjects who received a free gift of candy, compared to those in a control group, were willing to pay more to buy insurance against loss, and were particularly more likely to do so when the potential loss was large. A third study, which found that subjects who received a free gift of candy were not willing to pay more for an item than were control subjects, led us to conclude that the results of the first two experiments are not best interpreted as merely due to a general increase in the willingness to spend as a consequence of having received a gift. Instead it was concluded that positive feelings can foster both risk-prone behavior (Experiment 1) and risk-averse behavior (Experiment 2). When a positive-affect subject faces a risk situation in which the potential loss is emphasized, the subject demonstrates risk aversion; when the potential loss is minimized, then risk proneness is observed.

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