Based on propositions derived from terror management theory (TMT), the current study proposes that people who are reminded of their mortality exhibit a higher degree of self-justification behavior to maintain their self-esteem. For this reason, they could be expected to stick with their previous decisions and invest an increasing amount of resources in those decisions, despite the fact that negative feedback has clearly indicated that they might be on a course toward failure (i.e., "escalation of commitment"). Our experiment showed that people who were reminded of their mortality were more likely to escalate their level of commitment by maintaining their current course of action. Two imaginary scenarios were tested. One of the scenarios involved deciding whether to send additional troops into the battlefield when previous attempts had failed; the other involved deciding whether to continue developing an anti-radar fighter plane when the enemy had already developed a device to detect it. The results supported our hypothesis that mortality salience increases the tendency to escalate one's level of commitment.
- Sunk cost effect
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)