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A theory of self-control and naïveté: The blights of willpower and blessings of temptation

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  • Myrseth, Kristian Ove R.
  • Wollbrant, Conny E.
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    Abstract

    We model self-control conflict as an agent’s stochastic struggle against a visceral influence that impels the agent to act sub-optimally. The agent holds costly pre-commitment technology to avoid the conflict altogether and may decide whether to procure pre-commitment or to confront the visceral influence. We examine naïve expectations for the strength of the visceral influence; naïve expectations lead the agent to exaggerate the expected utility of resisting temptation and so mistakenly forego pre-commitment. Contrary to accepted wisdom, our analysis reveals conditions under which higher willpower—and lower visceral influence—reduces welfare. Our analysis, therefore, calls into question policy measures that influence willpower and visceral influences.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 8-19

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:34:y:2013:i:c:p:8-19

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

    Related research

    Keywords: Self-control; Temptation; Inter-temporal choice; Pre-commitment;

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    References

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    Cited by:
    1. Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Gerhard Riener & Conny Wollbrant, 2013. "Tangible temptation in the social dilemma: Cash, cooperation, and self-control," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-13-04, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.

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