Thanks to Amos Tversky’s and Daniel Kahneman’s Prospect Theory we know that the fear of losing something is much more motivating to most people than the potential of gaining something. In fact, according to some researchers, loss aversion is twice as powerful as the opportunity to gain.
The implications of loss aversion have been applied primarily to economics. But are there implications for learning?
Maybe instead of offering the chance to earn a grade we should tell every student at the start of class that they have an “A” and if they are successful they’ll keep it. If they’re not, they’ll lose it. Would they think of themselves as “A” students and be twice as motivated to keep their “A” as they would to earn an A?