Kahneman discusses this phenomenon in his book Thinking Fast and Slow in the context of golf, where loss aversion actually improves performance:
“Failing to make par is a loss, but missing a birdies putt is a foregone gain, not a loss. [Devin] Pope and [Maurice] Schweitzer reasoned from loss aversion that players would try a little harder when putting for par (to avoid a bogey) than when putting for a birdie. They analyzed more than 2.5 million putts in exquisite detail to test that prediction. They were right. Whether the putt was easy or hard, at every distance from the hole, the players were more successful when putting for par [i.e. avoiding a loss] than for a birdie [i.e. achieving a gain]. The difference in their rate of success when going for par (to avoid a bogey) or for a birdie was 3.6%.
This difference is not trivial. Tiger Woods was one of the “participants” in their study. If in his best years Tiger Woods had managed to putt as well for birdies as he did for par, his average tournament score would have improved by one stroke and his earnings by almost $1 million per season.”