Concorde Fallacyeffect

British ethologist Richard Dawkins (1941 - ) describes the Concorde fallacy/effect (also called the sunk cost fallacy) as the tendency to continue to invest in a project or activity merely to justify past investment in it, instead of evaluating the current reasons for investing and, also, regardless of what had happened previously (e.g., marriage partners often become caught up in escalating spirals of hostility and counter-hostility where they feel incapable of extricating themselves from the situation due to past emotional investments in the relationship). The Concorde fallacy/effect is named after the former Anglo-French supersonic airline, the Concorde, whose costs rose sharply during its development phase in the 1970s (so much so that it soon became an uneconomical and unprofitable enterprise), but the French and British governments continued to support the project in order to justify their past investment in it. In their ethological studies, R. Dawkins and H. J. Brockmann relate the Concorde fallacy/effect to the behavior of digger wasps regarding the latter's nesting activities where the findings are similar, generally, to humans' decision-making behaviors and strategies: individuals invest further in an activity because one has invested heavily in it in the past, rather than because of potential return on the investment [cf., the dollar auction game - a strategic decision game devised by the American economist Martin Shubik (1926- ), designed to model and study strategic escalation and entrapment, and where typical results are that bidding in the auction invariably exceeds the value of the prize, goal, or target item]. In the psychological literature, the term Concorde fallacy has been applied strictly to lower animals, whereas the term sunk cost effect has been applied solely to humans. See also DECISION-MAKING THEORIES. REFERENCES

Shubik, M. (1971). The Dollar Auction game. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 15, 109-111. Dawkins, R., & Brockmann, H. J. (1980).

Do digger wasps commit the Concorde fallacy? Animal Behaviour, 28, 892-896. Shubik, M. (1987). What is an application and when is theory a waste of time? Management Science, 33, 1511-1522.

Staw, B. M., & Ross, J. (1989). Understanding behavior in escalation situations. Science, 246, 216-220. Arkes, H. R., & Ayton, P. (1999). The sunk cost and Concorde effects: Are humans less rational than lower animals? Psychological Bulletin, 125, 591-600.

CONDILLAC'S THEORY OF ATTENTION. The French philosopher Etienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-1780) successfully transported John Locke's method and theory of empiricism from England to France. The theory of empiricism states that all knowledge comes from experience, whereas the method of empiricism advocates the collection and evaluation of data where experimentation is emphasized, and induction via observation is favored over deduction from theoretical constructs. Condillac reacted against Rene Descartes' (1596-1650) theory of innate ideas, Nicolas de Malebranche's (1638-1715) faculties theory, and Gottfried Leibnitz's (16461716) theory of the monad. In 1754,

Condillac presented his famous analogy/parable of the sentient statue to emphasize that the whole of mental life may be derived in experience from sensation alone. One is asked to imagine a statue that is endowed with only a single sense, such as the simple sense of smell. The statue smells a rose (where the statue is a rose for the time being because there is nothing else to its existence than this odor) and is, thereby, said to be attending to the odor. Thus, one may see how attention comes into mental life: the first odor goes, and another odor comes; then the first returns, and the statue knows that what was can come again; this is "memory." When what recurs with what is, the statue may be said to be comparing: one odor is pleasant, another odor is unpleasant. Also, in the inherent values of the odors, the statue learns of desire and aversion. In like fashion, judgment, discernment, imagination, and other sorts of abstract notions are represented by Condillac as possible of development in experience with only a single sense as the medium. Later, the addition of other senses would still further enhance the statue's capacities. Thus, the essential point of Con-dillac's statue analogy is that all mental life, including attention, can be derived from sensory experience, and if a statue were endowed with only a single sense, it could develop all the mental processes currently possessed by humans (cf., Condillac's constancy hypothesis which assumes that there is a formal, one-to-one correspondence between a local stimulus and a percept). Condillac argued that the sum total of all human mental processes would develop without any need to presuppose the laws of association, and variations in the quality of sensations would necessarily produce all the qualities that are needed for human comprehension. Condillac's brand of sensational empiricism eventually failed because it was too simple: it was difficult to re-duce the mind to sensory experience alone. The 19th century French writers felt that Con-dillac's approach was too cold; 20th century psychologists could not ignore the "whole" person and tended to stress the notion that analysis without synthesis is open to failure in theorizing. However, on the positive side, Condillac fostered the empirical attitude, which had a strong impact on the French materialism movement and, like John Locke, he adopted a philosophical approach and strategy that paved the way for the development of the natural sciences. See also ASSOCIATION, LAWS AND PRINCIPLES OF; ATTENTION, LAWS/PRINCIPLES/THEORIES OF; DESCARTES' THEORY OF INNATE IDEAS; EMPIRICAL/EMPIRICISM, DOC-TRINE OF; EMPIRICIST VERSUS NATIVIST THEORIES; LEARNING THEORIES AND LAWS; LEIBNITZ'S MONAD THEORY; MALEBRANCHE'S THEORIES; MIND/MENTAL STATES, THEORIES OF. REFERENCE

Condillac, E. (1754/1930). Treatise on sensations. Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press.

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