Many years ago, at the beginning of my psychology graduate program, my PhD adviser handed me a stack of academic papers. Most faded from memory, but one stuck out: a study comparing pigeons to humans, suggesting that both species exhibit a profound work ethic.

How can some enthusiastic pecking be considered the same thing as human grit and perseverance? Is there some metaphor here that we should listen to? Are we just glorified pigeons, going around pecking at things that don’t need to be pecked at? 

Part of the answer to at least some of these questions comes down to the neural basis of sunk costs.

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