Sensitivity to “sunk costs” in mice, rats, and humans

Brian M. Sweis, Samantha V. Abram, Brandy Schmidt, Kelsey D. Seeland, Angus MacDonald, Mark J Thomas, David Redish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sunk costs are irrecoverable investments that should not influence decisions, because decisions should be made on the basis of expected future consequences. Both human and nonhuman animals can show sensitivity to sunk costs, but reports from across species are inconsistent. In a temporal context, a sensitivity to sunk costs arises when an individual resists ending an activity, even if it seems unproductive, because of the time already invested. In two parallel foraging tasks that we designed, we found that mice, rats, and humans show similar sensitivities to sunk costs in their decision-making. Unexpectedly, sensitivity to time invested accrued only after an initial decision had been made. These findings suggest that sensitivity to temporal sunk costs lies in a vulnerability distinct from deliberation processes and that this distinction is present across species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-181
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume361
Issue number6398
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 13 2018

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Costs and Cost Analysis
Decision Making

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

Cite this

Sensitivity to “sunk costs” in mice, rats, and humans. / Sweis, Brian M.; Abram, Samantha V.; Schmidt, Brandy; Seeland, Kelsey D.; MacDonald, Angus; Thomas, Mark J; Redish, David.

In: Science, Vol. 361, No. 6398, 13.07.2018, p. 178-181.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sweis, Brian M. ; Abram, Samantha V. ; Schmidt, Brandy ; Seeland, Kelsey D. ; MacDonald, Angus ; Thomas, Mark J ; Redish, David. / Sensitivity to “sunk costs” in mice, rats, and humans. In: Science. 2018 ; Vol. 361, No. 6398. pp. 178-181.
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