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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Meditators make better decisions

A new study says that as little as 15 minutes of meditation can help businesspeople make better decisions and avoid the "sunk cost bias," Forbes reports.

The sunk cost bias–also known as the sunk cost fallacy, or the sunk cost effect–is recognized as one of the most destructive cognitive biases affecting organizations today. Put simply, it’s the tendency to continue an endeavor once an investment has been made in an attempt to recoup or justify “sunk” irrecoverable costs. The phenomenon is not new; psychological scientists have been studying the “escalation of commitment” since the mid-1970s, noting its ability to distort rational thought and skew effective decision-making. Often, it’s a subconscious action, which can result in millions of dollars being invested into a project, not because it’s a sound investment but because millions of dollars have already been spent.
The study, Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation: Research and the Sunk Cost Bias, found that  just 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation– concentrating on breathing or doing a body scan – helps build resistance to this "problematic decision process," which often stems from stress, anxiety, guilt, and fear, and allow better decision-making.

The study's author's say that mindfulness meditation, which brings the meditator into contact with the present moment, reduces mind-wandering and diminishes "the negative feelings that distort thinking, thereby boosting resistance to the sunk cost bias."