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Goal Setting as a Self-Regulation Mechanism

Author

Listed:
  • Anton Suvorov

    () (CEFIR, NES)

  • Jeroen van de Ven

Abstract

We develop a theory of self-regulation based on goal setting for an agent with present-biased preferences. Preferences are assumed to be reference-dependent and exhibit loss aversion, as in prospect theory. The reference point is determined endogenously as an optimal self-sustaining goal. The interaction between hyperbolic discounting and loss aversion makes goals a credible and effective instrument for self-regulation. This is an entirely internal commitment device that does not rely on reputation building. We show that in some cases it is optimal to engage in indulgent behavior, and sometimes it is optimal to set seemingly dysfunctional goals. Finally, we derive a condition under which proximal (short term) goals are better than distal (long term) goals. Our results provide an implicit evolutionary rationale for the existence of loss aversion as a means of self-control.

Suggested Citation

  • Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2008. "Goal Setting as a Self-Regulation Mechanism," Working Papers w0122, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0122
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    File URL: http://www.cefir.ru/papers/WP122.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. KAYABA, Yutaka, 2016. "How do People Procrastinate to Meet a Deadline?," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-33, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2011. "Goals and Psychological Accounting," IZA Discussion Papers 5802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Alexander K. Koch & Julia Nafziger, 2017. "Motivational Goal Bracketing: An Experiment," Economics Working Papers 2017-06, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    4. Buechel, Berno & Mechtenberg, Lydia & Petersen, Julia, 2014. "Peer Effects and Students’ Self-Control," MPRA Paper 53658, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Max van Lent & Michiel Souverijn, 2017. "Goal Setting and Raising the Bar: A Field Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-001/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Goals and bracketing under mental accounting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 305-351.
    7. Hsiaw, Alice, 2013. "Goal-setting and self-control," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 601-626.
    8. Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.
    9. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia & Suvorov, Anton & van de Ven, Jeroen, 2014. "Self-rewards and personal motivation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 151-167.
    10. repec:esx:essedp:749 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Berno Buechel & Lydia Mechtenberg & Julia Petersen, 2014. "Peer Effects and Students’ Self-Control," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-024, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    12. Reinstein, David, 2014. "The Economics of the Gift," Economics Discussion Papers 10009, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    13. Alice Hsiaw, 2015. "Goal Bracketing and Self-Control," Working Papers 90, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    14. Burger, Nicholas & Charness, Gary & Lynham, John, 2011. "Field and online experiments on self-control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 393-404, March.
    15. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2009. "Motivational Goal Bracketing," IZA Discussion Papers 4471, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Gómez Miñambres, Joaquín, 2011. "Make it challenging : motivation through goal setting," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1123, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    self-regulation; goals; time inconsistency; loss aversion; indulgence; compulsiveness; proximal and distal;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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