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Sensitivity to “sunk costs” in mice, rats, and humans

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Science  13 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 178-181
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar8644

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The impact of time wasted

The amount of time already spent on a task influences human choice about whether to continue. This dedicated time, known as the “sunk cost,” reduces the likelihood of giving up the pursuit of a reward, even when there is no indication of likely success. Sweis et al. show that this sensitivity to time invested occurs similarly in mice, rats, and humans (see the Perspective by Brosnan). All three display a resistance to giving up their pursuit of a reward in a foraging context, but only after they have made the decision to pursue the reward.

Science, this issue p. 178; see also p. 124