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Enjoyment takes time: Some implications for choice theory


  • Nisticò, Sergio


The paper suggests that casting the choice problem in terms of alternative time-consuming activities can foster the fruitful cross-fertilization between economics and psychology along the lines suggested by Scitovsky in the Joyless Economy. The first part emphasizes how mainstream, utility-based choice theory has eradicated "time" from the analysis, in contrast with the seminal contribution to the subjective theory of value proposed by Gossen in 1858. The limits of Becker's well-known approach to time-use are also analyzed. The second part opens with the presentation of an alternative approach based on activities, intended as productive processes allowing for pleasant time to be produced by consuming "direct" unpleasant time plus the "indirect" amount of unpleasant time equivalent to the market goods used up as inputs (Nisticò, Production of (Pleasant) Time by Means of (Unpleasant) Time: Some Notes on Consumption Theory and Time Use, 2014). Finally, the approach is applied to an intertemporal context by drawing on Hicks's temporary equilibrium method. Scitovsky's distinction between defensive and creative activities is discussed in conclusion, suggesting that individuals might refrain from engaging in more skilled, time-consuming activities because of the attractiveness of a certain, higher present-period rate of return of less skilled, goods-intensive activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Nisticò, Sergio, 2015. "Enjoyment takes time: Some implications for choice theory," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 9, pages 1-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifweej:20158

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Colin Camerer & Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein & Richard Thaler, 1997. "Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers: One Day at a Time," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 407-441.
    2. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1991. "Decision Making Over Time and Under Uncertainty: A Common Approach," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(7), pages 770-786, July.
    3. Sergio Nisticò, 2005. "Consumption and time in economics: prices and quantities in a temporary equilibrium perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(6), pages 943-957, November.
    4. Sergio Nisticò, 2002. "Classical-type temporary positions: a "cost-plus" model," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(1), pages 83-103.
    5. Ivan Moscati, 2007. "Early Experiments in Consumer Demand Theory: 1930-1970," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 359-401, Fall.
    6. J.S. Metcalfe, 2001. "special issue: Consumption, preferences, and the evolutionary agenda," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 37-58.
    7. Ivan Moscati, 2013. "Were Jevons, Menger, and Walras Really Cardinalists? On the Notion of Measurement in Utility Theory, Psychology, Mathematics, and Other Disciplines, 1870-1910," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 373-414, Fall.
    8. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    9. P. W. S. Andrews, 1949. "A Reconsideration Of The Theory Of The Individual Business," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 54-89.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergio Nisticò, 2016. "Some notes on Gossen’s ‘submerged and forgotten’ approach to consumption and time," Working Papers 2016-01, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Economia e Giurisprudenza.

    More about this item


    time use; consumption activities; behavior; choice;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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