IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Self-control in peer groups

  • Battaglini, Marco
  • Benabou, Roland
  • Tirole, Jean

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.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WJ3-4GF0DWS-2/2/9203e2b42a1ab8677bed2b0927dfd94f
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

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.

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

Volume (Year): 123 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 105-134

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:123:y:2005:i:2:p:105-134
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622869

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.:

as in new window
  1. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  5. Benabou, Roland, 1993. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 619-52, August.
  6. Benabou, R. & Tirole, J., 2001. "Willpower and Personal Rules," Papers 216, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  7. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model Of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774, August.
  8. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2004. "The supply of information by a concerned expert," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 487-505, 07.
  9. 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.
  10. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Discrete choice with social interactions," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin ., 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Economics Working Papers 97-253, University of California at Berkeley.
  14. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
  15. 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.
  16. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
  17. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D, 1999. "Entry Mistakes, Entrepreneurial Boldness and Optimism," CEPR Discussion Papers 2213, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
  21. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
  22. 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.
  23. Carrillo, Juan D & Mariotti, Thomas, 2000. "Strategic Ignorance as a Self-Disciplining Device," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 529-44, July.
  24. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence And Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915, August.
  25. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2001. "Non-Market Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1914, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  26. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
  27. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.