IACTURAPHOBIA: EXCESSIVE FEAR OF LOSS

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You are in a dream. In the dream, you are too tired to do anything. Returning from school or wherever you work, you are envisioning how you are going to rest immediately you get home. You are also fiddling with your phone to kill boredom. Now you are at home and ready to fulfill the promise you made to yourself. You drop your backpack, dive into your bed, and draw your duvet over your feeble body.

While fiddling with your phone on the train, you saw a mail from Netflix:

What did you think of Green Lantern? Did you like it? The more you rate, the more we can suggest shows and movies you might like. Ready for more? Men In Black, Another life, Warcraft……”

Merely looking at the movie posters, ANOTHER LIFE is going to make a lot of sense, so you decide to check it out. If you like the movie, you will watch it for about 2 hours. If you do not like it, you will search Netflix for exciting movies for hours, and finally, settle for the one to watch for about 2–3 hours. Congratulations, you are now in the rabbit hole! You do not have the energy to do any other work, but you have the energy to surf Netflix. You end up not resting as you had intended. The next day, you wake up groggy, and the cycle starts again.

You know what is wrong; you must take a break from Netflix! You are now ready to fortify your intellectual arsenal. You want to migrate to an Audiobook platform that has nearly the same monthly subscription as Netflix. Your current subscription cycle on Netflix is about to end, but you are still hesitant about your intention to migrate:

“I know I stand to gain a whole lot of things by subscribing to the Audiobook platform. But ‘it does not just feel right!’ Netflix is my baby. I cannot let it go.”

You have attached so much importance to Netflix that you are not willing to let go even for a moment. When you are about to continue loafing with Netflix yet again, you hear a voice say: “You are iacturaphobic about losing Netflix just for some time.”

“And what is IACTURAPHOBIA if I may ask,” you enquired.

Come with me!

IACTURAPHOBIA AND HOW TO SNAP OUT OF IT

Several social experiments have proved that we would rather hold on to a dollar we have at hand than stake it to gain a value of two dollars or more over an extended period. We think a bird at hand is better than two in the bush because the pain we feel from a loss is twice as strong as the pleasure we feel from an equivalent gain — so, we tend to avoid loss. This is explained by loss aversion which is the inclination to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains.

An experiment of interest is the one performed by Derek Muller, a Youtuber at Veritasium. He offered experimentees $10 to guess correctly whether a toss of a coin will come out head or tail. There is a red flag though. If they guessed wrong, they would give him $10. All the experimentees passed on this offer. This is understandable since the value of the bet is zero — the chance of winning is the same as that of losing.

He changed the condition of the bet. He offered them $15, then $20, for a correct guess. But they still stood the chance of losing $10 if they guessed wrong. Now that the value of the bet is $2.5, and then $5, they all passed on the offer once again.

“But you have the chance of gaining!”

“Why should I stake $10 for the chance of winning? It does not just feel right!”

Yes, it does not feel right! That is why he asked whether they would take the bet with a value of $5 if the coin was to be tossed a hundred times. Some of them saw it as favorable while the others backed out. But the reality is with a probability of 50% for both outcomes — head or tail — if the coin is tossed a hundred times, the expected value of the bet is $500 in favor of the experimentees.

While tending to avoid loss in a one-time toss is understandable, choosing to back out when the coin is going to be tossed repeatedly — in this case, a hundred times — does not make any sense. The fear of loss in this kind of scenario is excessive and unnecessary. This is IACTURAPHOBIA at play.

In Derek’s words:

This experiment is not about gambling. It is not to encourage you to go to the casino where the odds are stacked against you. Instead, it is a metaphor for all the little risks and opportunities that come our way in life. If you view each one as an independent event, you will often say no to even very good bets because you are afraid of the loss. So, if you can see each little bet as one of a series of bets, then you realize if you take that bet every time, you may win and you may lose, but on the aggregate, you will come out ahead.

FINAL NOTE

There was a tweet on the Nigerian Twitter space some years back:

“Ifa fit recover all the money wey I don spend on top data, Jeff Bezos no fit near me.”

“If I can retrieve all the money I have spent on data subscription, I will be richer than Jeff Bezos.”

While this is in part humorous, it is a wake-up call to take a step back and rethink our day-to-day decisions:

A limited resource spent wisely can yield incredible results.

When you only have the money sufficient for only one subscription, would you rather hold on to Netflix because it is your baby, or migrate to an audiobook platform where you will have access to life-changing ideas? Would you rather make that subscription that will make your work-life easier, or continue enjoying the view of your bank balance? Would you rather spend your time aimlessly scrolling social media or spend your time doing things that matter?

Share your thoughts in the comment section or send me a mail at [email protected]

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