Zeqing Mao

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Nicholas Watanabe


This dissertation investigates the relationships between the level of experience, the magnitude of payoffs, and the significance of loss aversion within the context of esports. In the behavioral economics literature, loss aversion describes why individuals prefer avoiding losses to obtaining equivalent gains depending on a reference point. While previous studies predominantly capitalize on experimental methods to examine how the significance of loss aversion is affected by market experience and payoff magnitude, there is also a growing body of research that examines the behavioral properties of loss aversion outside laboratory environments, with sport being one of the most utilized settings. This is primarily because sporting data are abundant, naturally occurring, and well recorded. As such, the current dissertation is focused on the context of esports, namely, Dota 2, which has high-quality data at all levels of competition. Based on well-defined gain and loss domains as well as a risk-averse behavior, survival analysis is employed to analyze whether trailing behind significantly decreases the probability of adopting the less risky solution. The results of this dissertation reveal that individuals have a consistent propensity to avoid losses. Further analysis indicates that experience does not significantly impact the loss aversion tendency, which supports the relevant studies in the literature. However, the magnitude of payoffs has a mitigating effect on the salience of loss aversion, which is radically different from previous findings.