Experience theory, or how desserts are like losses

Jolie M. Martin, Martin Reimann, Michael I. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although many experiments have explored risk preferences for money, few have systematically assessed risk preferences for everyday experiences. we propose a conceptual model and provide convergent evidence from 7 experiments to suggest that, in contrast to a typical "zero" reference point for choices on money, reference points for choices of experiences are set at more extreme outcomes, leading to concave utility for negative experiences but convex utility for positive experiences. as a result, people are more risk-averse for negative experiences such as disgusting foods-as for monetary gains-but more risk-seeking for positive experiences such as desserts-as for monetary losses. these risk preferences for experiences are robust to different methods of elicitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1460-1472
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Experience theory
  • Experiences
  • Money
  • Prospect theory
  • Risk preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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