The sunk cost fallacy and individual differences in health decisions

Norma Patricia Fernandez, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The Sunk Cost fallacy is a biased committed when individuals base their decisions to stop or continue a course of action solely on past irrecoverable invested costs (i.e., monetary or time-related). Individuals’ susceptibility to the Sunk Cost fallacy has been justified as the need to try to avoid appearing wasteful, to avoid appearing inconsistent, to learn a lesson from and to punish self for a poorly made decision. A study by Bornstein and Chapman (1995) evaluated these justifications along with a normative response and found statistical differences among all justifications. However, the study of the Sunk Cost fallacy and these justifications in health-related scenarios is scarce. The purpose of the present study was to replicate Bornstein and Chapman’s study, develop and test new health-related scenarios, and evaluate the relationship between the Sunk Cost fallacy and individual differences in terms of decision making styles and fatalism. The replication study yielded similar findings as the original study. Results across experiments confirmed the presence of the Sunk Cost fallacy among a predominantly Mexican American sample in both non-health related and health-related scenarios. There were statistically significant associations between the Sunk Cost fallacy and decision making styles and fatalism. In addition, there were statistical differences based on age and sex.^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Psychology, Behavioral|Information Science

Recommended Citation

Fernandez, Norma Patricia, "The sunk cost fallacy and individual differences in health decisions" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3409151.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI3409151

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