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Self-Regulation through Goal Setting

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Author Info

  • Koch, Alexander K.

    ()
    (Aarhus University)

  • Nafziger, Julia

    ()
    (Aarhus University)

Abstract

Goals are an important source of motivation. But little is known about why and how people set them. We address these questions in a model based on two stylized facts from psychology and behavioral economics: i) Goals serve as reference points for performance. ii) Present-biased preferences create self-control problems. We show how goals permit self-regulation, but also that they are painful self-disciplining devices. Greater self-control problems therefore lead to stronger self-regulation through goals only up to a certain point. For severely present-biased preferences, the required goal for self-regulation is too painful and the individual rather gives up.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3893.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Scandinavian Journal of Economics , 2011, 113 (1), 212-227;
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3893

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Keywords: self-control; time inconsistency; motivation; psychology; goals;

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References

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  1. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  2. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
  3. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  4. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
  5. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  6. Fabian Herweg & Daniel Müller, 2008. "Performance of Procrastinators: On the Value of Deadlines," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse3_2008, University of Bonn, Germany.
  7. Gine, Xavier & Karlan, Dean & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Put your money where your butt is : a commitment contract for smoking cessation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4985, The World Bank.
  8. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  9. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 302-337.
  10. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alexander K. Koch, & Julia Nafziger & Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2012. "Self-Rewards and Personal Motivation," Economics Working Papers 2012-14, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  2. Sebastian Goerg & Sebastian Kube, 2012. "Goals (th)at Work – Goals, Monetary Incentives, and Workers’ Performance," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  3. Hsiaw, Alice, 2013. "Goal-setting and self-control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 601-626.
  4. Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2012. "Motivation through goal setting," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1223-1239.
  5. Berno Buechel & Lydia Mechtenberg & Julia Petersen, 2014. "Peer Effects and Students’ Self-Control," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-024, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  6. Bruttel, Lisa & Friehe, Tim, 2014. "On the path dependence of tax compliance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 90-107.
  7. Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.

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