The sunk-cost fallacy leads to all sorts of poor decision-making — like staying too long at a bad job or refusing to drop out of a hopeless mayoral campaign. Here’s how Dubner explained it in our podcast on quitting:
A “sunk cost” is just what it sounds like: time or money you’ve already spent. The sunk-cost fallacy is when you tell yourself that you can’t quit because of all that time or money you spent. We shouldn’t fall for this fallacy, but we do it all the time.
But there’s new hope for all you sunk-cost believers out there: new research (abstract; PDF) from Andrew C. Hafenbrack, Zoe Kinias, and Sigal Barsade shows that a 15-minute mindfulness meditation practice can help. Read More »
Anthony Weiner is still running for mayor of New York as I write this, though that status may soon change. Not coincidentally, a reader named Jon Creem (an unfortunate aptonym in this case?) writes in to say:
I took the explanation as people’s unwillingness to give up due to the amount of investment (time, money, etc) they have already made.
Then, when catching up on the latest Anthony Weiner mayoral saga, I couldn’t help make a connection.
Is this guy refusing to remove himself from the race because he feels he has done too much already to drop out now? In my opinion the odds are stacked against him regardless of how good a politician he is.
I assume continuing to campaign will only cost him more time and money. Is it worth it for him to continue?
Insofar as pride and ego are components of sunk cost, I guess Jon is right. On the other hand, it doesn’t strike me that Weiner’s continuing to run is really about sunk cost. Modern politics is so often an exercise in ego, hubris, and narcissism — and if I were to armchair-analyze Weiner, I’d suggest that these factors are much more important than the sunk costs of time and money. Read More »