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Multiple selves in intertemporal choice

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  • Jamison, Julian
  • Wegener, Jon

Abstract

We propose that individuals consider future versions of themselves to truly be separate persons, not simply as a convenient modeling device but in terms of actual brain systems and decision-making processes. Intertemporal choices are thus quite literally strategic interactions between multiple agents. Previous neuroscientific studies have found evidence that systems involved with theory of mind (i.e. mentalizing about other agents) are similar to those involved with prospection (imagining oneself in the future). We provide a conceptual framework for this work and suggest that, instead of prospection, a more analogous future task occurs with intertemporal choice and time preferences, since these involve implicit prediction of future actions. Recent functional imaging studies appear to confirm such a link. Additional studies - behavioral, clinical, and neuroimaging - are proposed in order to confirm the specific nature of the correspondence and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Finally, given that society may have a vested interest in promoting the welfare of future selves, we discuss possible policy implications of departing from the standard framework in which individuals act in their own best interests as defined over the entire lifetime.

Suggested Citation

  • Jamison, Julian & Wegener, Jon, 2010. "Multiple selves in intertemporal choice," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 832-839, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:5:p:832-839
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    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:187-208 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sophie Massin, 2011. "La notion d'addiction en économie : La théorie du choix rationnel à l'épreuve," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 121(5), pages 713-750.
    3. Witt, Ulrich & Binder, Martin, 2013. "Disentangling motivational and experiential aspects of “utility” – A neuroeconomics perspective," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 27-40.
    4. Laajaj, Rachid, 2012. "Closing the Eyes on a Gloomy Future: Psychological Causes and Economic Consequences," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123933, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Solnais, Céline & Andreu-Perez, Javier & Sánchez-Fernández, Juan & Andréu-Abela, Jaime, 2013. "The contribution of neuroscience to consumer research: A conceptual framework and empirical review," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 68-81.
    6. Da Silva, Sergio & Matsushita, Raul & De Carvalho, Mateus, 2015. "Prosocial People Take Better Care of Their Own Future Well-Being," MPRA Paper 68452, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Ivan Boldyrev & Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2012. "Hegel’s “Objective Spirit” and its Contemporary Relevance for the Philosophy of Economics," HSE Working papers WP BRP 05/HUM/2012, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. Da Silva, Sergio & De Faveri, Dinorá & Correa, Ana & Matsushita, Raul, 2017. "Social preferences, financial literacy and intertemporal choice," MPRA Paper 79535, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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