The New York Times reports that loss aversion steers professional golfers to putt for birdie significantly less often than putting for par, according to two professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
After analyzing laser-precise data on more than 1.6 million Tour putts, they estimated that this preference for avoiding a negative (bogey) more than gaining an equal positive (birdie) — known in economics as loss aversion — costs the average pro about one stroke per 72-hole tournament, and the top 20 golfers about $1.2 million in prize money a year. …
Rather than resist any insight from ivory tower academics, several golfers admitted to handling identical birdie and par putts differently — and appeared somewhat amused at being found out. Geoff Ogilvy, who made par putts 4.1 percent more often than birdie putts from the same distance, said: “A par putt seems more final. It shouldn’t make any difference, should it?” And Paul Goydos, who showed the effect at 4.4 percent, said it probably affected him even more on putts for eagle.
(Note: this entry originally appeared at consumerology.com)