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Neural mechanisms and personality correlates of the sunk cost effect

Fujino, Junya and Fujimoto, Shinsuke and Kodaka, Fumitoshi and Camerer, Colin F. and Kawada, Ryosaku and Tsurumi, Kosuke and Tei, Shisei and Isobe, Masanori and Miyata, Jun and Sugihara, Genichi and Yamada, Makiko and Fukuyama, Hidenao and Murai, Toshiya and Takahashi, Hidehiko (2016) Neural mechanisms and personality correlates of the sunk cost effect. Scientific Reports, 6 . Art. No. 33171. ISSN 2045-2322. PMCID PMC5017311. doi:10.1038/srep33171.

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The sunk cost effect, an interesting and well-known maladaptive behavior, is pervasive in real life, and thus has been studied in various disciplines, including economics, psychology, organizational behavior, politics, and biology. However, the neural mechanisms underlying the sunk cost effect have not been clearly established, nor have their association with differences in individual susceptibility to the effect. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated neural responses induced by sunk costs along with measures of core human personality. We found that individuals who tend to adhere to social rules and regulations (who are high in measured agreeableness and conscientiousness) are more susceptible to the sunk cost effect. Furthermore, this behavioral observation was strongly mediated by insula activity during sunk cost decision-making. Tight coupling between the insula and lateral prefrontal cortex was also observed during decision-making under sunk costs. Our findings reveal how individual differences can affect decision-making under sunk costs, thereby contributing to a better understanding of the psychological and neural mechanisms of the sunk cost effect.

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Camerer, Colin F.0000-0003-4049-1871
Additional Information:© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit Received: 26 May 2016. Accepted: 23 August 2016. Published: 09 September 2016. The authors wish to extend their gratitude to the research team of the Department of Psychiatry at Kyoto University for their assistance in data acquisition. This work was supported by grants-in-aid for scientific research A (24243061), and on Innovative Areas (23120009, 16H06572), from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT); Grants-in-Aid for Young Scientists A (23680045) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS); Health and Labour Science Research Grant for Comprehensive Research on Disability Health and Welfare (H25-seishin-jitsuyouka-ippan-001) from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare; a Japan-US. Brain Research Cooperation Program grant, and Takeda Science Foundation. A part of this study is the result of Development of BMI Technologies for Clinical Application carried out under the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences by MEXT, “Research and development of technology for enhancing functional recovery of elderly and disabled people based on non-invasive brain imaging and robotic assistive devices”, the Commissioned Research of National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, JAPAN, and the Joint Usage/Research Program of Medical Institute of Developemental Disabilities Researsh, Showa University. Author Contributions: S.F., F.K., C.F.C., H.F., T.M. and H.T. designed research; J.F., S.F., R.K., K.T., S.T. and M.I. performed research; S.F., F.K. and H. T. contributed new analytic tools; J.F., S.F., R.K., K.T., M.I., J.M. and G.S. analyzed data; and J.F., S.F., C.F.C., S.T., J.M., G.S., M.Y., H.F., T.M. and H.T. wrote the paper. All authors have made intellectual contribution to the work and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)24243061
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23120009
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)16H06572
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23680045
Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (Japan)H25-seishin-jitsuyouka-ippan-001
Japan-US. Brain Research Cooperation ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Takeda Science FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Strategic Research Program for Brain SciencesUNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Information and Communications TechnologyUNSPECIFIED
Showa UniversityUNSPECIFIED
PubMed Central ID:PMC5017311
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160919-150401662
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Fujino, J. et al. Neural mechanisms and personality correlates of the sunk cost effect. Sci. Rep. 6, 33171; doi: 10.1038/srep33171 (2016).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70438
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:19 Sep 2016 22:53
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:29

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