Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Psychological Science

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Eric Thrailkill

Second Advisor

Mark Bouton

Third Advisor

Jeremy Sibold


prospect theory, loss aversion, risk aversion, decision making, athletes


Loss aversion describes the propensity to prefer avoiding losses over obtaining equivalent gains. In two experiments, I examined loss aversion and other decision-making variables. In Experiment 1, club sport athletes and non-athletes completed measures of loss aversion, risk aversion, delay discounting, and probability discounting. Groups were compared to assess the hypothesis that athletes are less loss and risk averse than non-athletes. The samples did not significantly differ in their levels of loss aversion or delay or probability discounting. However, athletes were less risk averse than non-athletes. Experiment 2 examined predictions of loss aversion for different conditions in which the expected values of each choice were manipulated. Two groups received three blocks consisting of 64 hypothetical 50-50 gambles that each presented a potential gain and a potential loss. Participants chose to accept or reject the gamble. For the AAA group, gains ranged from $12 to $40, and losses ranged from $6 to $20 in all three phases. The ABA group experienced the same ranges in Phases 1 and 3 but reversed ranges in Phase 2. I hypothesized that the participants’ choices would be sensitive to the expected value of the gambles and that, independent of the expected value, they would accept gambles in a manner consistent with loss aversion. The results supported my hypotheses. Loss aversion was observed at each test block; however, groups differed systematically in how well their choices matched the predictions of loss aversion. Overall, the results provide new information on the influence of experience on decision making.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.