8/31/2016

sunk cost fallacy

(source)

Hello.
About one year ago, I started three books for three people. My intuition was to make kind of diary- books for friendship, where I write in whenever I experienced or enjoyed something with the particular friend together. This would be a really nice memory- book, I thought and started writing. Whenever I met the friend or we had fun together, I would take the book and write in the most hilarious moments and funny jokes.
Within the last months, especially in terms of my tidying marathon, however, I realized that I, myself, do not like such kind of books, even more, they strain me.
I made progress in getting rid of some memory books except for a few and tried to keep the amount of sentimental stuff in my room as little as possible. In doing so, I was not able to avoid the three sentimental books that I was preparing for my friends. Even though I would not like receiving them myself, I thought, I invested a lot of time for writing and drawing in them, energy for remembering dates and money to buy the notebooks in the first place. So, I would just finish them, give them to my friends as a birthday present and then never start such a thing again.
So, I continued writing into them, what more and more felt like an obligation. I wrote and counted the days, I would be finally giving this books away and not have to deal with them.
Today, I put out this books again, with the original intuition to write some new stuff into them. I hold the books in my hands. "Am I really just keeping them, because I invested a lot of time in them?", I asked myself. Then, I disiposed two books. I ripped out the pages of two books and put the remaining parts on our stack of empty notebooks. From one book, I kept 2 pages the other I got rid of completely.

The phenomenon that you keep things because you have invested a lot of time, energy or money in them, is called sunk cost fallacy. The "sunk costs" are the costs you have already invested in the project. Since you have already invested them, you cannot get them back. The "fallacy" here is that you have to continue the project to make the sunk costs worth it. Even if you do not like the project or do not benefit from it anymore, you feel like you have to keep pursuing it for the sake of making your former investments worth it.
Thoughts of the sunk cost fallacy may be:
"I have bought the food already, so I will eat it up even though I am not hungry anymore."
"I will continue watching this terrible movie, because I have already watched half of it."
Or
"I have already invested a lot of time into writing this books, so I will continue it."
 As you can see, the argumentation is always the same: Because I have invented so much, I will continue.
As the name already indicates, however, sunk costs are this: sunk. They cannot be recovered, whether you stop the activity right now or pursue it for the rest of your life. If continue something that does not benefit you, however, you assemble even more sunk costs, what means that you a.) waste more time and b) make your decision to quit the activity even harder.

So, the important question now is how to avoid trapping into the sunk cost fallacy. I think, the easiest question to decide whether to continue something is:
"Would I continue it if had to start from scratch?"
Asking yourself this question, you will be able to expose and avoid a lot of sunk cost fallacies in your life.
(sources: 1, 2, 3)
I hope you enjoyed this article completely (and not just because you have already read half of it) and see you soon,
 

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