Expectancy Neglect: Why Superstitious Acts Increase Risk-Seeking in Gains but Risk-Avoidance in Losses, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research
Consumers are known to be loss averse—they seek risk when facing losses but avoid risk when anticipating gains. In this research, we posit that engaging in a superstitious act can reverse these effects by invoking fatalistic notions (e.g., “it is meant to be”) and reducing deliberation. Reduced deliberation is known to increase the use of extreme values as reference points and to lower the consideration of outcome expectancy. Consequently, consumers consider the best possible gain (worst possible loss) rather than expected gain (loss) and become more risk seeking (risk averse) in gains (losses). Four experiments involving real behavioral measures provide support for our proposition. We thus offer a new perspective on how engaging in superstitious behaviors reduces deliberation and affects risky choice.
Dong, Ping, and Aparna Labroo. 2018. Expectancy Neglect: Why Superstitious Acts Increase Risk-Seeking in Gains but Risk-Avoidance in Losses. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. 3(4): 527-539.