Self-control in peer groups
People with a self-control problem often seek relief through social interactions rather than binding commitments. Thus, in self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous etc, members are said to achieve better personal outcomes by mainly sharing their experiences. In other settings, however, peer influences can severely aggravate individual tendencies towards immediate gratification, as is often the case with interactions among schoolmates or neighborhood youths. Bringing together the issues of self-control and peer effects, we study how observing the behaviour of others affects individuals’ ability to resist their own impulses towards short-run gratification. We show how these purely informational spillovers can give rise to multiple equilibria, where agents’ choices of self-restraint or self-indulgence are mutually reinforcing. More generally, we identify conditions on agents’ initial self-confidence, confidence in others, and degree of correlation that uniquely lead to either a ‘good news’ equilibrium where social interactions improve self-discipline, a ‘bad news equilibrium’ where they damage it, or to both. We also conduct a welfare analysis to determine when group membership is preferable to, or worse than, isolation. Individuals will generally find groups useful for self-control only if they have at least a minimal level of confidence in their own and their peers’ ability to resist temptation. At the same time, having a partner who is ‘too perfect’ is no better than being alone, and therefore often less desirable than being matched to someone more like oneself. Our Paper thus provides a psychologically grounded theory of endogenous peer effects, as well as of the importance of group morale.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If 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.
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2001.
"Discrete Choice with Social Interactions,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 235-260.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2001.
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1914, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
- Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
- S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
- Roland Benabou, 1993.
"Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-652.
- Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2001.
"Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Marco Battaglini & Roland Bénabou, 2003. "Trust, Coordination, and the Industrial Organization of Political Activism," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 851-889, 06.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997.
"Doing It Now or Later,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Benabou, R. & Tirole, J., 2001.
"Willpower and Personal Rules,"
216, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Laibson, David I., 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Dynarski, Mark & Schwab, Robert & Zampelli, Ernest, 1989. "Local characteristics and public production: The case of education," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 250-263, September.
- Anne C. Case & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991.
"The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths,"
NBER Working Papers
3705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
- Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2004.
"The supply of information by a concerned expert,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 487-505, 07.
- de Bartolome, Charles A M, 1990. "Equilibrium and Inefficiency in a Community Model with Peer Group Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 110-33, February.
- Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2001.
"Risky Behavior among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics,"
in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 29-68
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt5sf0z5rs, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics," Economics Working Papers E00-285, University of California at Berkeley.
- Brueckner, Jan K. & Lee, Kangoh, 1989. "Club theory with a peer-group effect," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 399-420, August.
- Juan D. Carrillo & Thomas Mariotti, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 529-544.
- Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
- Banerjee, A.V. & Besley, T., 1990. "Peer Group Externalities And The Learning Incentives: A Theory Of Nerd Behavior," Papers 68, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774.
- Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D, 2001. "Rush and Procrastination under Hyperbolic Discounting and Interdependent Activities," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 141-64, March.
- Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
- Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
- Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D, 1999. "Entry Mistakes, Entrepreneurial Boldness and Optimism," CEPR Discussion Papers 2213, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:123:y:2005:i:2:p:105-134. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.