Cultural Amnesia, Archaeological Vandalism, and Loss Aversion in Heritage

Author(s): Jennifer Goddard

Year: 2017


Loss aversion theories contend that people prefer to avoid losses than acquire gains. Further, this tendency increases with object possession and ownership history. Although loss aversion implies a preference for heritage conservation practices, Holtorf (2015) argued that material losses could provide greater heritage gains. This paper asserts that loss aversion tendencies are relative to the referent’s valence perceptions. Positive or negative valence embedded in heritage values will differentially influence the preference to avoid loss or embrace it. Whereas people tend to avoid the loss of positively construed heritage, negatively construed heritage is often destroyed, forgotten, or omitted. Using examples of cultural amnesia in heritage as well as various types of archaeological vandalism, this paper will demonstrate how negative and positive valence differentially affect loss aversion tendencies and further suggests how this might play a role in heritage management.

Cite this Record

Cultural Amnesia, Archaeological Vandalism, and Loss Aversion in Heritage. Jennifer Goddard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429802)

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Abstract Id(s): 16774