What do a breakup and a lost backpack have in common?
The feeling they give you.
Loss aversion, the idea that losses are more psychologically impactful than gains, is widely considered the most important idea of behavioral decision-making and its sister field of behavioral economics.David Gal, Scientific American
Let’s explore a few other cognitive biases in play when losing things. In the case of a lost backpack, the endowment effect is at play. This bias occurs when we overvalue something that we own, regardless of its objective market value (Kahneman et al., 1991).
In terms of relationships, many people often stay in one longer than they should due to the sunk cost fallacy. Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Arkes & Blumer, 1985).
As we have learned from our cognitive biases, letting go is hard. We’re simply not wired for it. Keep this in mind the next time you incur a loss.
In most cases, the emotional response to a loss is unnecessary or overdone.