Compounding Errors

Amos Tversky was a cognitive psychologist and a colleague of Daniel Kahneman. Both would change the way we view human behavior today, notably the prospect theory which says people make choices based on potential gains and losses, using mental shortcuts called heuristics, instead of by looking at the final outcome of the choice.

In his personal life, Amos refused to let errors compound. In “The Undoing Project”, Michael Lewis gives a couple examples. If he went to a party where he found people uninteresting, he’d leave without a word. His children remember him taking their mother to a movie and he’d return 20 minutes later. He’d decided that the movie wasn’t worth the time and then return later to the theater to pick up his wife. He said, “They’ve already taken my money, should I give them my time too?”

Whether or not you’d leave your significant other at a movie isn’t the point.

But the story does provide insight into the choice we have; the choice to not continue to error.

The choice you have, once the ticket is bought, not to attend.

To not finish the book.

To say you are sorry.

To change your mind.

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