Preschoolers recognize that losses loom larger than gains.

AbstractPeople often over value their current property. For example, even young children will chose to keep their current property over trading it for property of similar utility (Hartley & Fisher, 2018). In two experiments (N = 180), we examined how children aged 3 and 4 weigh the potential loss of existing property against the gain of property in their reasoning about others’ actions. We found that by 4-years-old, children expect others’ to prioritize the retention of existing property over the acquisition of new property. We suggest that this expectation reflects an understanding that people often value what they already own more than what they can potentially gain. We discuss the implications of our findings for competing theories of ownership reasoning, and for children’s reasoning about loss aversion.

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