Loss aversion is the tendency to be more sensitive to losses than comparable gains. Recent work has shown that men's loss aversion can change when they have a currently activated mating motivation. The current research examined whether women's sensitivity to loss might be influenced by the hormones that regulate fertility, which are known to activate intra-sexual competition and mating motivation. Three studies found that women became less sensitive to loss at peak fertility—near ovulation—in some contexts. Ovulating women reported being less upset at the prospect of losing hypothetical amounts of money and products (e.g., laptop, tennis shoes), as well as accepted lower selling prices for a picture frame, an indication of decreased loss aversion. We also uncovered a theoretically-derived boundary condition for this effect: ovulation led women to become more loss averse when the product was directly relevant for enhancing attractiveness (e.g., lipstick).
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- Endowment effect
- Evolutionary psychology
- Loss aversion