Watch This Video, Quit Your Job, Dump Your Boyfriend

The sunk cost fallacy means making a choice based on a desire not to see your past investment go to waste.

We view ourselves as rational decision-makers, and that's our first mistake. Our second mistake is that after making a mistake we continue on the same path because we refuse to accept that we were wrong, not to mention all of the time and energy we have put into a relationship, a job, or a career choice.


In the video below, Julia Galef, president of the Center For Applied Rationality, explains why you might stick it out at a job even though you know you would probably be happier somewhere else. "You figure I’ll just stick with it because I don’t want my past ten years of effort and time and money to have been wasted," Galef says.

So what to do about it?

Awareness of the sunk cost fallacy is key, and you will start to notice how it works when it comes to decisions about small things. Let's say you're 100 pages into a book and it's a big disappointment. Do you put it down or do you "trudge through the remaining 200-300 pages?" Galef asks. 

Understanding how the sunk fallacy works in that instance might help you to think through more important decisions, such as whether to change your career or drop out of a Ph.D program. 

Watch here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less