WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People who focus on their
hopes and aspirations may be less likely to cling to bad
investments, a new study suggests.
Volunteers were first given the choice to write about either
their personal duties and obligations or their personal hopes and
The participants were then told to imagine they were an aviation
company president who had committed $10 million to developing a
special kind of aircraft. But after spending $9 million and with
the project nearly completed, another company announced it had made
a better, cheaper plane. Study participants were asked if they
would spend the last $1 million or cancel the project.
People who wrote about their hopes and aspirations were more
likely to abandon the project. Those who wrote about their duties
and obligations felt it was their responsibility to finish the
project, thus throwing good money after bad.
The Northwestern University researchers said people who focus on
their own hopes think positively about opportunities for growth and
were therefore more likely to contemplate what else might be
accomplished with the remaining $1 million.
People who focus on duties and obligations feel more anxious and
therefore thought about how abandoning the project would amount to
accepting complete failure.
The study was published in the January issue of
"At the very least, when things start to go wrong, people should stop and evaluate the costs and benefits of going forward," study author Daniel C. Molden, an assistant professor of social psychology at Northwestern University, said in a journal news release. "Instead, many people think, 'I've already committed so much to this, I can't quit now.'"
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