Getting Older Isn't All That Bad

Better Decisions and Coping When Facing "Sunk Costs"

Published in: Psychology and Aging, v. 29, no. 3, Sep. 2014, p. 642-647

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2014

by Wandi Bruine de Bruin, JoNell Strough, Andrew M. Parker

Read More

Access further information on this document at psycnet.apa.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Because people of all ages face decisions that affect their quality of life, decision-making competence is important across the life span. According to theories of rational decision making, one crucial decision skill involves the ability to discontinue failing commitments despite irrecoverable investments also referred to as "sunk costs." We find that older adults are better than younger adults at making decisions to discontinue such failing commitments especially when irrecoverable losses are large, as well as at coping with the associated irrecoverable losses. Our results are relevant to interventions that aim to promote better decision-making competence across the life span.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.