A Danger of the Sunk cost fallacy in Passion
A Danger of the Sunk cost fallacy in Passion
  • Jiyoung Hong
  • 승인 2022.03.27 23:30
  • 수정 2022.03.30 00:03
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Division of English Literature and Languages
Jiyoung HongDivision of English Literature andLanguages
Jiyoung Hong
Division of English Literature and language

Have you heard about the sunk cost? It is a cost that you’ve already spent so can’t get it back. People are likely to feel difficult to give up with sunk costs because of time, money or other investments they have put in. This psychological tendency is called ‘the sunk cost fallacy’ and it does not only apply to economic cases, but also in our daily life, in decision-making situation. One of the irrational decisions can be made by overlooking the sunk cost in passion.


A common belief in today’s society is that you have to pursue what you love with passion and treat it exclusive than other values. Therefore, people around you seem to be on their way of living. They live very busy and spend their time fruitfully for their goals. Some of them take more courses than you, participate in one or more external activities, and start new part-time jobs or join new clubs. People who are into activities that they are passionate about are attractive, because they seem to found a long-term and good reason to live their life, not bothered by some failure, and full of selfconfidence. When you are surrounded by these people, living in their best time, you are likely to think that you should be more enthusiastic and ambitious with your life.


However, there are moments when you realize what you were passionate about is not what you truly wanted, or not meaningful to you anymore. It happens because personal interests and values move on over time, which also cause changes in life priority. But when it’s time to decide whether to stop or to maintain past passion, people can hardly choose to quit it. Since being passionate for long time is evidence of overcoming all difficulties and achieving by intense endeavors in the past, people can’t easily give up on it. Also, passion is easy to be misunderstood as pure destiny, not reward, that it may fade in difficult situations but eventually is the main value to follow. But passion is what comes after giving time and effort, grows as you put more investments, which later turns into guilty and regrets. This ‘sunk cost fallacy’ blocks you from quitting from what you’ve been doing, although it does not offer needed experiences anymore.


What’s worse is that once passion grows, it encourages you to do more than you thought of yourself. It may sound ironic, however, you can recognize its negative implication by a term ‘Passion pay’ in Korea. This term is coined to describe the social phenomenon that young interns or new university graduates are likely to be paid less or not paid, due to the justification that they are in a position of doing what they have long hoped and prepared for. It is ridiculous that being passionate at work substitutes remuneration but people still get deceived by this trick. Being excessively absorbed in passion, blinds your eyes and leads you to wrong decision, keeping up with the sunk cost. Renouncing what you’ve dedicated is difficult. Starting all over again is fearful. Being a beginner gets harder as we age. But the last thing you shouldn't do is being immersed in the sense of "doing something busy”. Working passionately or living diligently does not lead you to the point, unless it generates main values of your life. To prevent being a puppet of passion, you need to weigh what you are doing right now aligns to the main purpose of your life. In short, you should always have a time to pause and check whether you are still investing to the sunk cost of passion. Remember, quitting is sometimes a rational choice to make.

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