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Willpower depletion and framing effects

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  • de Haan, Thomas
  • van Veldhuizen, Roel

Abstract

One of the hallmark findings from behavioral economics is that choices are sensitive to the context they are presented in. However, the strength of such ‘framing effects’ varies between studies, and some studies fail to find any effect at all. A long line of research has argued that the presence and size of framing effects depend to a large extent on whether people use higher or lower-level mental decision making processes (or heuristics). A similarly important line of research in social psychology and economics suggests that higher-level mental processes such as self-control draw upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be exhausted. This study links these two lines of research and investigates whether depleting people's mental resources (or ‘willpower’) affects the degree to which they are susceptible to framing effects. In three separate experiments we depleted participants’ willpower using the commonly used Stroop task method and subsequently made them take part in a series of tasks, including a framed prisoner's dilemma, an attraction effect task and an anchoring effect task. However, though we find strong evidence of a framing effect in all three tasks, the strength of these effects is not affected by induced changes in the level of willpower depletion.

Suggested Citation

  • de Haan, Thomas & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2015. "Willpower depletion and framing effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 47-61.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:117:y:2015:i:c:p:47-61
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.06.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Galeotti, 2017. "The Attraction and Compromise Effects in Bargaining: Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-01657317, HAL.
    2. Kocher, Martin G. & Lucks, Konstantin E. & Schindler, David, 2016. "Unleashing Animal Spirits - Self-Control and Overpricing in Experimental Asset Markets," Discussion Papers in Economics 27572, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:72-89 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:463-487 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gerhardt, Holger & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah & Willrodt, Jana, 2017. "Does self-control depletion affect risk attitudes?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 463-487.
    6. Kuhn, Michael A. & Kuhn, Peter & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2017. "Decision-environment effects on intertemporal financial choices: How relevant are resource-depletion models?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 72-89.
    7. Lucks, Konstantin, 2016. "The Impact of Self-Control on Investment Decisions," MPRA Paper 73099, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Willpower; Ego depletion; Framing; Willpower depletion; Experiment; Behavioral economics;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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