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Procrastination and impatience

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  • Reuben, Ernesto
  • Sapienza, Paola
  • Zingales, Luigi

Abstract

We use a combination of lab and field evidence to study whether highly-impatient individuals are more likely to procrastinate. To measure impatience, we elicit individual discount rates by giving participants choices between smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. To measure procrastination, we record how quickly participants complete three tasks: an online game, their application to the university, and a mandatory survey. We find that, consistent with the theory, impatient individuals procrastinate more, but only in tasks where there are costs to delay (the online game and university application). Since we pay participants by check, we are also able to determine whether the participants’ cashing behavior is consistent with the timing of their payment choice. We find substantial evidence of time inconsistency. Namely, more than half of the participants who receive their check straight away instead of waiting 2 weeks for a reasonably larger amount, subsequently take more than 2 weeks to cash it.

Suggested Citation

  • Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2015. "Procrastination and impatience," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 63-76.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:58:y:2015:i:c:p:63-76
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2015.07.005
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    1. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2015. "Procrastination and impatience," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 63-76.
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    Cited by:

    1. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2015. "Procrastination and impatience," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 63-76.
    2. Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & Geoffrey Fisher, 2016. "Religious Identity and Economic Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 617-637, October.
    3. Oliver Himmler & Robert Jäckle & Philipp Weinschenk, 2019. "Soft Commitments, Reminders, and Academic Performance," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 114-142, April.
    4. Jansen, Anika & Pfeifer, Harald & Raecke, Julia, 2017. "Only the brave? Risk and time preferences of decision makers and firms' investment in worker training," ROA Research Memorandum 002, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    5. Reuben, Ernesto & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2010. "Time discounting for primary and monetary rewards," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 125-127, February.
    6. Non, Arjan & Tempelaar, Dirk, 2016. "Time preferences, study effort, and academic performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 36-61.
    7. Fischbacher, Urs & Schudy, Simeon & Teyssier, Sabrina, 2021. "Heterogeneous preferences and investments in energy saving measures," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    8. David Patiño & Francisco Gómez-García, 2019. "Do Quasi-Hyperbolic Preferences Explain Academic Procrastination? An Empirical Evaluation," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 230(3), pages 95-124, June.
    9. repec:ubc:pmicro:yoram_halevy-2012-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:ran:wpaper:895 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Novarese, Marco & Di Giovinazzo, Viviana, 2013. "Promptness and Academic Performance," MPRA Paper 49746, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Procrastination; Impatience; Hyperbolic discounting; Discount rates; Time inconsistency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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