‘Fear Of Loss Is More Powerful Than The Prospect Of Gain’

“Fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain.”

Apparently, psychologists will tell you that, I read today.

In this instance, the above quote was cited in relation to why the middle and lower classes in societies with extreme wealth inequality (like the United States and Britain) take very little interest in addressing the problem.

The struggling middle classes look down more anxiously than they look up, particularly in recession and sluggish recovery. Polls show they dislike high income inequalities but are lukewarm about redistribution. They worry that they are unlikely to benefit and may even lose from it; and worse still, those below them will be pulled up sufficiently to threaten their status. This is exactly the mindset in the US, where individualist values are more deeply embedded. Americans accepted tax cuts for the rich with equanimity. Better to let the rich keep their money, they calculated, than to have it benefit economic and social inferiors.

However, I was more struck by how that fear of loss plays out in so many parts of my life and, I assume, in the lives of many. It could easily apply to moving to a different location, getting a different job, matters of love … the list could go on.

There is nothing wrong with being cautious, of course, but sometimes it is not in our best interest. Sometimes, a fear of loss is downright unhealthy — especially when weighed against the prospect of gain.

I’m not lecturing you so much, dear reader, as I am lecturing myself. This is something to remember and repeat.

“Fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain.”

Class dismissed.


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