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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. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia & Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2014. "Self-rewards and personal motivation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 151-167.
  2. Bruttel, Lisa & Friehe, Tim, 2014. "On the path dependence of tax compliance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 90-107.
  3. Buechel, Berno & Mechtenberg, Lydia & Petersen, Julia, 2014. "Peer Effects and Students’ Self-Control," MPRA Paper 53658, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2012. "Motivation through goal setting," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1223-1239.
  5. Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.
  6. Eric J. Allen & Patricia M. Dechow & Devin G. Pope & George Wu, 2014. "Reference-Dependent Preferences: Evidence from Marathon Runners," NBER Working Papers 20343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alice Hsiaw, 2012. "Goal-Setting and Self-Control," Working Papers, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics 1404, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2014.
  8. 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, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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