Time is money, money is power, power is pizza, and pizza is knowledge. So says Parks and Recreation's April Ludgate, which means it must be true. We don't always follow these wise words in our daily life and spending habits, though. Don't feel too bad about that — mice can't either.
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Researchers at the University of Minnesota have just released a study looking into what's called the sunk cost fallacy. It's the idea that the more time you spend on a thing, the less incentive you have to walk away from it. Whether you've plowed through a TV series you've stopped enjoying or held onto a job or an investment that's not doing it for you anymore, you've probably lived the sunk cost fallacy yourself.
The team at UM thinks it may be more of a brain processing function than a conscious decision you're screwing up. One possibility, the researchers say in a press release, is "because predicting the value of future outcomes can be complex and difficult, animals may have evolved processes in which valuation is measured from effort spent, which is easier to process." The results held true in tests conducted with mice, rats, and humans — all were less likely to abandon a reward the longer they waited for it.
It's one more reminder to be sure that you know the difference between justified persistence and failing to cut your losses. If a job or a business is ruining your life, the right thing to do is figuring out how to walk away and move on.