Comments on: Sunk Cost Bias: How It Hinders Your Life and 4 Ways to Overcome It Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. Mon, 16 Dec 2013 07:19:11 +0000 hourly 1 By: Financial Brilliance, 28 Unique Bits | Jack Green's Sat, 02 Jul 2011 04:50:08 +0000 […] Some sunken costs are worth letting go of. – “Persisting with bad decisions due to our irrational attachment to costs that we cannot recover has become so common that you can find them just about anywhere.  Big organizations and governments excel at it.  A government that insists on a war so the lives already spent “are not wasted” comes to mind, but I digress…” – via Litemind […]

By: Luciano Passuello Sat, 11 Jul 2009 13:56:51 +0000 Hi Stephen, glad to have you here!

I believe that for many people this is the most natural way of responding to such articles.

When writing articles, we usually need to focus on single facets, while ignoring others. We do that so we can make our points cleanly.
Readers, however, tend to see examples as a whole, not necessarily focusing on the same thing we do (and want them to do). Maybe they lived something similar and acted differently, so they relate their own experience.

Personally, I think that even when the discussions go a little off the main point, it’s still great to see readers playing with the article’s idea: it shows they are trying to make sense of it!

Don’t you agree?

By: Stephen - Rat Race Trap Sat, 11 Jul 2009 12:13:36 +0000 Luciano, I loved the article. As I was reading through all these comments I noticed you are fighting what I seem to fight constantly. People want to find counter-examples or pick at the edges while missing the main point or at least going beyond the main point. I love the way you worded it:

“However, I would say that these observations are probably beyond the point of the article.”

I’ve even been tempted to write a blog article that said something along these lines. Stop treating my articles as as categorical cover all situations at all times declarations. They have a main theme that we need to get on with and stop sniping at the edges.

Any advice in that regard or is this just part of the game we play?

By: Luciano Passuello Mon, 06 Jul 2009 14:25:56 +0000 Jacob, I agree with you that staying at home may prevent you from interesting life experiences. I also understand that many times there are issues of obligation involved.

However, I would say that these observations are probably beyond the point of the article. What I’m trying to say with the basketball game example is: decide to go or to stay, but don’t base your decision solely on “recovering the cost” of the ticket. If you’re doing it to your keep your word, fine — that’s a reason. If you’re going to the game for unforeseen life opportunities, that’s fine, too. Just please don’t do it for the ticket cost.

By: Jacob Lawrence (21 yo College Student) Fri, 03 Jul 2009 23:33:04 +0000 This article seems to assert the fact that no matter what the sunk cost is, you should always go with the option that will lead to the most happiness. But it assumes that the only options the person considers are worth any merit. This mindset ignores all unseen probabilities that this thing called “life” has. Let’s say you stayed home for whichever reason is chosen due to the thought process that you believe it will bring more happiness to you. In doing this, you have forgone the possibilities life could have thrown in your direction if you had gone. This does not mean that nothing will happen if you were to stay at home, but this article naturally assumes that picking the option that has the biggest payoff in the near future will bring the best result for your life. This thought process is the same as a kid wanting a cooking from a cookie jar and stealing it not knowing that simply asking would be a better lesson to learn in life. The sunk cost bias just seems narrow minded in this view. Given the option of A or B, you should pick the one that gives the best result; but ignore the unseen options C, D, etc.
Another interesting problem I could see in this article was that the article does not clarify issues of obligation. For instance, let’s say your friend bought you tickets to the game and you were not interested but wanted to do something with your pal. When it came to the night of the game, you did not feel like getting out in the cold weather and you did not feel up to it. This sunk-cost bias suggests doing what would make you happier with no mention to obligation currently agreed upon by both parties. If you were to go with this bias, you would sit at home and possibly taint your credibility with your friend. Now imagine this on multiple occasions and the effects of never holding true to your word. This would cause a massive loss of credibility to satisfy short-term happiness and would, in no way, seem to produce the most happiness desired overall.
These are just a few of my ideas that this article brought to mind while analyzing it. I am definitely open to criticisms by those of you willing to back your thoughts with sufficient reasoning.

By: Luciano Passuello Thu, 02 Jul 2009 16:42:06 +0000 Your example is much better than mine. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

By: John Wed, 01 Jul 2009 17:58:03 +0000 I do understand. However, for me the first example was a bad one. I figure that if you are buying a ticket for yourself there is some inherent benefit that you will gain by going the event. Why would you buy the ticket otherwise.

I thought of a personal example which made more sense to me, and helped me to understand the idea. Lets say I bought two tickets(Non refundable/Non sellable) to Dolly Parton to go with my girlfriend. I do not like Dolly Parton but she does. Now if we break up or she cant go anymore I would be in the same position. Should I go to “save” the money or just stay home. Ten times out of ten I would stay home. I would not gain anything from going in fact it would be horrible having to sit there listening to music I dont like.

Thanks for the topic and taking the time to conversate. I think this is a lesson we all need to take heed of more often… Especially the stubborn ones out there.

By: Luciano Passuello Fri, 26 Jun 2009 17:03:07 +0000 You can go to the game despite of preferring to be at home at the moment of choice, sure.
Just make sure you do it for the right reasons.

In your case, the reason might be that you already knew you would find the game fun the minute you arrive there; or maybe the incentive is the sense of accomplishment for beating laziness. Or maybe for the potential learning experience.
Just don’t do it solely for “recovering the ticket” — that’s the point.

Does that make sense?

By: John Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:16:37 +0000 I think this idea is wrong in the specific case it mentions in the introduction and the beginning of the essay. I dont not feel it is better to do what you really want to do at that moment in time. The rewards will be greater for having fought through your want to be lazy. I have had both of these experiences but the staying home scenario only once. I have bought a un refundable or sellable ticket for an event. I decieded that day that I didn’t feel like going. I have stayed home and felt great about it not worried that I wasted my money (I was doing what I wanted.). But, the next time at the very last minute I forced my self to go to the event. The second I got there my whole perspective changed. It turned out to be a great and I was so happy that I made the choice to go. It was even a better reward than staying in because I fought through my complacency and went to the game, not wasting my money, and had a great experience.(This example can also work with the gym membership.) Even if I had a horrible time it would be far more rewarding because I believe that everything bad that happens to you is a learning experience and therefore positve. Ever since then I always end up fighting through my laziness and going because it always feels better. This excludes times when I am sick or there is an emergencey that I causes me to miss the event. I completely understand some of the other examples because there is a time to move on from things in the past without guilt. (Throwing away that old shirt or getting rid of your first car.) I just dont think the game and the gym membership are good examples as they seem to me to be more rewarding than submitting to what you want at the moment as oppossed to what is actually better for you.

Sorry for grammar mistakes,

Comments appreciated…

By: Luciano Passuello Thu, 24 Jul 2008 13:38:07 +0000 Hi Julie, thanks for the link and for sharing your story! You know, the more expensive something is, the more likely it is to cause sunk cost attachments. Falling into that trap for real estate is very common… Glad you moved on!