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A theory of self-control and naïveté: The blights of willpower and blessings of temptation

  • Myrseth, Kristian Ove R.
  • Wollbrant, Conny E.
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    We model self-control conflict as an agent’s stochastic struggle against a visceral influence that impels the agent to act sub-optimally. The agent holds costly pre-commitment technology to avoid the conflict altogether and may decide whether to procure pre-commitment or to confront the visceral influence. We examine naïve expectations for the strength of the visceral influence; naïve expectations lead the agent to exaggerate the expected utility of resisting temptation and so mistakenly forego pre-commitment. Contrary to accepted wisdom, our analysis reveals conditions under which higher willpower—and lower visceral influence—reduces welfare. Our analysis, therefore, calls into question policy measures that influence willpower and visceral influences.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167487012001407
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 8-19

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:34:y:2013:i:c:p:8-19
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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