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Definition

sunk cost effect

The sunk cost effect is the tendency for humans to continue investing in something that clearly isn’t working.

Because it is human nature to want to avoid failure, people will often continue spending time, effort or money to try and fix what isn’t working instead of cutting their losses and moving on. This tendency, which is known as the sunk cost effect, can be illustrated by the adage “throwing good money after bad.”

In nature, the sunk cost effect is known as the Concorde effect. 

This was last updated in March 2013

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