Marketing Letters

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 201–211 | Cite as

Selling losers and keeping winners: How (savings) goal dynamics predict a reversal of the disposition effect

  • Jaakko Aspara
  • Arvid O. I. Hoffmann


A well-documented behavioral pattern in consumer financial decision making is the disposition effect, which refers to the tendency to sell winning investments too early while holding on to losing investments too long. This bias has negative wealth consequences, because typically, individuals' losing investments continue to underperform while their winning investments continue to outperform. Using a goal-systemic framework, the present research indicates that individuals' susceptibility to the disposition effect can be reversed by activating a superordinate (savings) goal. Experimental results indicate that three effective ways to activate a superordinate (savings) goal, and thereby reverse the disposition effect, are as follows: (1) subtly prime it with goal-related words, (2) prime it by making an overall portfolio loss salient, and (3) prime it by explicitly mentioning a goal with a clear-end state.


Consumer financial decision making Disposition effect Goal systems theory Investment decisions Savings goals 



Part of this work was completed while Arvid Hoffmann was visiting the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, whose hospitality is gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank the editor, Frank R. Kardes, and an anonymous reviewer for valuable recommendations. The authors thank Stefanie Kleimeier, Joost Pennings, Thomas Post, and Martin Wetzels for their helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this work. The authors thank Donna Maurer for her editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MarketingAalto University School of BusinessHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Finance, School of Business and EconomicsMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement (Netspar)TilburgThe Netherlands

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