In the trap of Sunk Cost Fallacy


Have you ever been in a situation where you want to leave something, but you are doing it involuntarily just for the sake that you have invested time in it or a certain amount of money?

Well, I guess at some point or the other you might have been through it, irrespective of the age or the gender.

Have a look at some of the situations where

You have ordered food and you realize that it is not tasty but end up eating as you have already paid for it.

You buy a pair of school shoes, and somehow, they turn out to be incorrect in size, then also you would continue to wear them even if it hurts because you have already paid for them.

Imagine you are watching a movie in a theater and halfway you realize that the movie is bad and the crowd is even worse. You think of leaving the movie midway but your partner disagrees and asks you to settle down because you have paid so much for it and you have invested your certain hours for it.

All the above are examples of Sunk Cost Fallacy. If you’re not aware of it, don’t worry, let’s understand this concept. It is the phenomenon where a person is obligated to do an unwilling task because he has invested time and money into it. The sunk cost fallacy is most dangerous when we have invested a lot of time, money, energy, or love in something. The more we invest, the greater the sunk costs are, and the greater the urge to continue becomes.

Read this interesting story of a student to know more about the sunk cost fallacy.

A school student named Amrita chose science in her stream because she wanted to pursue engineering. She invested a lot of her time and money in preparing for the entrance, including tuition, textbooks, and countless hours of studying. However, her interest started to fade away and she soon realized that she didn’t enjoy it anymore.

Despite her lack of interest, Amrita is reluctant to change her subjects. She thinks to herself, “I’ve already invested so much time and money into this stream. If I switch subjects now, all that effort will go in vain.”

In this scenario, Amrita is falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy. She’s making the decision to continue studying the same stream not because she’s passionate about it or believes it’s the best path for her, but because she wants to justify the past investments she’s made. The money and time she’s already spent on her stream are sunk costs – they cannot be recovered, and they should not influence her future decisions.

  •  So just close your eyes and ask yourself
  • Are you stuck in the wrong career?
  • Have you chosen the wrong subjects?
  • Are you stuck in the wrong relationship?

Always remember Rational decision-making requires you to forget about the costs incurred to date. No matter how much you have already invested, only your assessment of future costs and benefits counts. So think before you start becoming the victim of the Sunk Cost Fallacy, as it may disturb your focus.

Avinash Agarwal

Study Skill & Habit Coach,


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