Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
The present study is an investigation of age and expertise differences in the sunk-cost fallacy (SCF), the phenomenon of basing one's decision on past investments rather than the future consequences and/or benefits. The current study used a procedure which required participants to answer sunk-cost vignettes and to justify their answers to the vignettes. Results revealed that demonstration of the SCF decreased with age: young adults demonstrated the fallacy the most frequently and older adults demonstrated it the least frequently. An age by expertise interaction was identified for normatively correct decisions: expert young adults made more normatively correct decisions than naive young adults. Justifications differed by age group and decision situation: young adults tended to provide justifications related to the salience of the investment as their decision justification when making decisions regarding a dinner situation and middle-aged adults provided justifications of contingencies more frequently in a situation regarding a movie purchase. Young adults' focus on the salience of the previous investment suggested an avoidance of additional loss.
Karns, Tara E., "Age, Expertise, and the Sunk-Cost Fallacy" (2012). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3486.