When people have devoted time or resources to a certain project, they generally want to see it succeed. However, they may grow so attached to the idea of a successful outcome that even if it starts to look like the project will fail, and the disadvantages are outweighing the benefits, they will nevertheless increase their commitment to the project rather than give up. This is known as irrational commitment. This tendency to continue with a project when it would make better sense to quit can be especially strong when people feel they may be judged by others for their eventual success or failure with the project.
Listen to part of a lecture from a psychology class.
So, I have a personal example. Some years back, my wife and I were looking for a house to buy. We found this great old house out in the country. But my wife had her doubts about it. She noticed the house wasn't in very good condition. It was a little run down and probably needed some repairs. But, I really fell in love with the architecture of the house, the unusual way it was designed and built, so I convinced my wife that we could hire people to fix it up and, you know, make the house nice.
We decided to buy it and live there after the repairs were finished. Well, the workers we hired to repair the house soon discovered things were worse than I thought. It turned out that the roof was damaged and needed expensive repairs. After the roof was repaired, the workers discovered the house had electrical problems. Most of the wiring was bad and would have to be replaced, at a huge cost.
Well, at this point, my wife reminded me of her earlier doubts about the house and wondered if we could ever get it in good shape. But I just became more determined than ever. I paid for all the wiring to be replaced by an electrician. But it gets worse. The electrician noticed that insects had eaten some of the walls and they would also have to be torn out and replaced. This was going to be more expensive than all the other repairs. But by this point, I felt determined to keep going. I kept thinking, “I have to do it. If I stopped now, my wife will think I was wrong for not following her advice.”
Explain how the example from the professor’s lecture illustrates irrational comment.
The irrational commitment is a tendency to continue a project even if the project is more likely to fail than succeed. This tendency can be especially strong when people feel that others are judging the success or failure of their projects. In the professor’s personal example, he wanted to buy an old house. But his wife said it was in no good condition and didn’t want to buy it. He convinced his wife to buy the house and decided to fix the house before they live in. However, house turned out to have many problems, the professor had to spend huge amount of money to fix the damaged roof and electrical problems. Then his wife reminded him of her earlier doubts. But he became more determined than ever. Even if the problem of the house got worse and took more money to fix, he just kept going, because he didn’t want his wife to think he was wrong for not following her advice. In other words, he didn’t want his wife to judge his success or failure.
The reading talks about irrational commitment, which is when people devote time and energy into a project, they will go along with the project even if it will fail. Then the professor talked about his personal experience. When he and his wife looked for a house to buy, he loved an old house, but his wife had some doubts. He bought it anyway and promised he would fix it. But soon he found that things were worse than he thought. He had to fix the roof, change the electrical wires and tear down the walls. The cost was huge. When his wife reminded him of her earlier doubts, he didn’t want to admit he made a bad decision. He had devoted time and money into this repair work, he was afraid of being judged by its outcome, so he continued with it anyway.