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Future lock-in: Future implementation increases selection of 'should' choices

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  • Rogers, Todd
  • Bazerman, Max H.

Abstract

People often experience tension over certain choices (e.g., they should reduce their gas consumption or increase their savings, but they do not want to). Some posit that this tension arises from the competing interests of a deliberative "should" self and an affective "want" self. We show that people are more likely to select choices that serve the should self (should-choices) when the choices will be implemented in the distant rather than the near future. This "future lock-in" is demonstrated in four experiments for should-choices involving donation, public policy, and self-improvement. Additionally, we show that future lock-in can arise without changing the structure of a should-choice, but by just changing people's temporal focus. Finally, we provide evidence that the should self operates at a higher construal level (abstract, superordinate) than the want self, and that this difference in construal partly underlies future lock-in.

Suggested Citation

  • Rogers, Todd & Bazerman, Max H., 2008. "Future lock-in: Future implementation increases selection of 'should' choices," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 1-20, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:106:y:2008:i:1:p:1-20
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grolleau, Gilles & Sutan, Angela & Vranceanu, Radu, 2016. "Do people contribute more to intra-temporal or inter-temporal public goods?," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 186-195.
    2. Breman, Anna, 2011. "Give more tomorrow: Two field experiments on altruism and intertemporal choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1349-1357.
    3. Rogers, Todd & Norton, Michael I., 2014. "The Belief in a Favorable Future," Working Paper Series rwp14-048, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Beretti, Antoine & Figuières, Charles & Grolleau, Gilles, 2013. "Behavioral innovations: The missing capital in sustainable development?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 187-195.
    5. Katherine Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max Bazerman, 2010. "I’ll have the ice cream soon and the vegetables later: A study of online grocery purchases and order lead time," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 17-35, March.
    6. Ojha, Divesh & Salimath, Manjula & D’Souza, Derrick, 2014. "Disaster immunity and performance of service firms: The influence of market acuity and supply network partnering," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(PB), pages 385-397.
    7. Katherine L. Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max H. Bazerman, 2007. "Highbrow Films Gather Dust: A Study of Dynamic Inconsistency and Online DVD Rentals," Harvard Business School Working Papers 07-099, Harvard Business School, revised Apr 2008.

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