Temptation and productivity: A field experiment with children
AbstractSubstantial evidence from psychology suggests that resisting temptation (exercising self-control) in one domain subsequently reduces one's capacity to regulate behavior in other domains. A reason is that people have limited self-regulatory resources, and self-regulatory failure occurs when these resources become overwhelmed. This paper provides evidence that this same mechanism can lead to reduced economic productivity subsequent to exposure to temptation. Using a design inspired by the classic “Marshmallow Test”, we report data from a field experiment in which children between the ages of 6 and 13 were exposed (or not) to a consumption temptation. We use these ages to take advantage of the well-established fact that the self-regulatory resources of younger children are more easily depleted than those of older children. We find that, subsequent to exposure to temptation, productivity of younger children is significantly detrimentally impacted, while that of older children remains essentially unchanged. To our knowledge, this is the first rigorous demonstration that one need not succumb to temptation in order for it to detrimentally impact one's economic productivity.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Volume (Year): 78 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo
Willpower; Children; Temptation; Productivity; Field experiment;
Other versions of this item:
- Bucciol, Alessandro & Houser, Daniel & Piovesan, Marco, 2011. "Temptation and productivity: A field experiment with children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 126-136, April.
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kathleen D. Vohs & Ronald J. Faber, 2007. "Spent Resources: Self-Regulatory Resource Availability Affects Impulse Buying," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 537-547, 01.
- Ozdenoren, Emre & Salant, Stephen & Silverman, Dan, 2010.
"Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges,"
dp-10-35, Resources For the Future.
- Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen W. Salant & Dan Silverman, 2012. "Willpower And The Optimal Control Of Visceral Urges," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 342-368, 04.
- Emre Ozdenoren & Steve Salant & Dan Silverman, 2005. "Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Levine's Working Paper Archive 784828000000000034, David K. Levine.
- Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," Economics Working Papers 0069, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
- Emre Ozdenoren & Stephen Salant & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Willpower and the Optimal Control of Visceral Urges," NBER Working Papers 12278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
- Daniel Houser & Daniel Schunk & Joachim Winter & Erte Xiao, 2010. "Temptation and commitment in the laboratory," IEW - Working Papers 488, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. " Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
- Leonhard K. Lades, 2012. "Impulsive Consumption and Reflexive Thought: Nudging Ethical Consumer Behavior," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-03, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
- Kuhn, Michael A. & Kuhn, Peter J. & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2013.
"The Importance of the Cognitive Environment for Intertemporal Choice,"
IZA Discussion Papers
7273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Michael A. Kuhn & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2013. "The Importance of the Cognitive Environment for Intertemporal Choice," Working Papers 1316, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
- Michael A. Kuhn & Peter Kuhn & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2013. "The Importance of the Cognitive Environment for Intertemporal Choice," Working Papers halshs-00807423, HAL.
- Alessandro Bucciol & Daniel Houser & Marco Piovesan, 2011. "Temptation at work," Harvard Business School Working Papers 11-090, Harvard Business School.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wendy Shamier).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.