Matrimonial Loss Aversion

by Patrick Appel

Paula Szuchman's applies economic theories to marriage:

The concept that’s had the most profound impact is loss aversion. Behavioral economists have shown that we hate to lose twice as much as we love to win, and when we sense we’re losing, we get irrational. Loss aversion has been partly blamed for Lehman Brothers’ failure to admit its losses early enough to save the company.

I’m vehemently averse to losing. But now I try to be aware of when I cross into loss-aversion mode during disagreements. Then I call a time-out.

And this interview with behavioral economist Colin Camerer is worth a read. The interviewer asks if there is any free riding in his household. The answer:

No. Here’s why: I am one of the world’s leading experts on psychology, the brain and strategic game theory. But my wife is a woman. So it’s a tie.