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8 Cognitive Biases Facing Data Scientists

Called the “Sunk Cost Fallacy” in economics.

Escalation of commitment is a human behavior pattern in which an individual or group facing increasingly negative outcomes from a decision, action, or investment nevertheless continues the behavior instead of altering course.

It’s the tendency to continue investing resources into an existing project despite evidence that remaining costs outweigh benefits, justified by having already invested significant resources.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

After working on a new NLP pipeline for a month, I learned it would only perform marginally better than an existing model.

The new model would take another week to complete and there were other available projects requiring my skills. Despite this, I had a strong desire to finish the current project because I’d already invested so much time. This is “escalation of commitment”.

Photo by Miles Iwes from Pexels

Logically, if the marginal benefit of working on something else is higher, you should do that instead.

That said, this cognitive bias may be so well ingrained in an organization that you don’t have a choice but to finish a current project, if only for optics (aka. so you don’t look bad).