Sunk cost sensitivity during change-of-mind decisions is informed by both the spent and remaining costs

A. David Redish, Samantha V. Abram, Paul J. Cunningham, Anneke A. Duin, Romain Durand-de Cuttoli, Rebecca Kazinka, Adrina Kocharian, Angus W. MacDonald, Brandy Schmidt, Neil Schmitzer-Torbert, Mark J. Thomas, Brian M. Sweis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sunk cost sensitivity describes escalating decision commitment with increased spent resources. On neuroeconomic foraging tasks, mice, rats, and humans show similar escalations from sunk costs while quitting an ongoing countdown to reward. In a new analysis taken across computationally parallel foraging tasks across species and laboratories, we find that these behaviors primarily occur on choices that are economically inconsistent with the subject’s other choices, and that they reflect not only the time spent, but also the time remaining, suggesting that these are change-of-mind re-evaluation processes. Using a recently proposed change-of-mind drift-diffusion model, we find that the sunk cost sensitivity in this model arises from decision-processes that directly take into account the time spent (costs sunk). Applying these new insights to experimental data, we find that sensitivity to sunk costs during re-evaluation decisions depends on the information provided to the subject about the time spent and the time remaining.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1337
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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