Decision making is tough and the bigger the decision, usually the tougher it gets. The good news is, there are people who have been rigorously studying human decision making and have some helpful insights for the rest of us.

One of the many helpful insights from the science of decision-making is the Sunk Cost Fallacy, which describes the tendency for people to remain committed to a bad decision simply because they already invested in it. A good example is driving through a snow storm to attend an event, even if you don’t want to, simply because it is paid for and cannot be refunded; or staying in a situation that once seemed promising, but now has a very bleak outlook for the future. In these cases, the cost is sunk and cannot be recovered. Yet, it plays a significant role in our decision making, even though it should no longer be a rational consideration. As David McRaney put it:

“The best choice is to do whatever promises the better experience in the future, not which negates the feeling of loss in the past.”

Ricky Giesbrecht

Ricky Giesbrecht


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