IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/stabus/1800.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Overestimating Self-Control: Evidence from the Health Club Industry

Author

Listed:
  • Malmendier, Ulrike M.

    (Stanford U)

  • Della Vigna, Stefano

    (U of California Berkeley)

Abstract

Experimental evidence suggests that people make time-inconsistent choices and display overconfidence about positive personal attributes. Do these features affect consumer behavior in the market? To address this question we use a new panel data set from three US health clubs with information on the contract choices and the day-to-day attendance decisions of 7,978 health club members over three years. Members who choose a contract with a flat monthly fee of over $70 attend on average 4.8 times per month. They pay a price per expected visit of more than $17, even though a $10-per-visit fee is also available. On average, these users forgo savings of $700 during their membership. We review many aspects of the consumer behavior, including the interval between last attendance and contract termination, the survival probability, and the correlation between different consumption choices. The empirical results are diffcult to reconcile with the standard assumption of time-consistent preferences and rational expectations. A model of time-inconsistent agents with overconfidence about future patience explains the findings. The agents overestimate the future attendance and delay contract cancellation whenever renewal is automatic. Salesman pressure and overstimation of future effciency are the leading alternative explanations.

Suggested Citation

  • Malmendier, Ulrike M. & Della Vigna, Stefano, 2003. "Overestimating Self-Control: Evidence from the Health Club Industry," Research Papers 1800, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1800
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP1800.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1209-1248.
    2. Krusell Per & Kuruscu Burhanettin & Anthony Smith, 2000. "Tax Policy with Quasi-Geometric Discounting," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 1-40.
    3. Roll, Richard, 1986. "The Hubris Hypothesis of Corporate Takeovers," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 197-216, April.
    4. Malmendier, Ulrike & Tate, Geoffrey, 2008. "Who makes acquisitions? CEO overconfidence and the market's reaction," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 20-43, July.
    5. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    6. Ulrike Malmendier & Geoffrey Tate, 2005. "CEO Overconfidence and Corporate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(6), pages 2661-2700, December.
    7. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2004. "Contract Design and Self-Control: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 353-402.
    8. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "For Better or for Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 81-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Pagan,Adrian & Ullah,Aman, 1999. "Nonparametric Econometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521355643.
    10. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
    11. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    12. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
    13. Gourville, John T & Soman, Dilip, 1998. " Payment Depreciation: The Behavioral Effects of Temporally Separating Payments from Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 160-174, September.
    14. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
    15. M. Daniele Paserman, 2008. "Job Search and Hyperbolic Discounting: Structural Estimation and Policy Evaluation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(531), pages 1418-1452, August.
    16. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2009. "Time-Inconsistency And Welfare Program Participation: Evidence From The Nlsy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1043-1077, November.
    17. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    18. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    19. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
    20. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
    21. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303.
    22. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Koszegi, 2000. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Gruber Jonathan H & Mullainathan Sendhil, 2005. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-45, July.
    24. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    25. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187.
    26. David A. Wise, 1998. "Frontiers in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise98-1.
    27. Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "A Memory-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 735-774.
    28. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1998. "The Red and the Black: Mental Accounting of Savings and Debt," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 4-28.
    29. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. David K. Levine & Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1449-1476, December.
    2. Just, David R. & Wansink, Brian & Mancino, Lisa & Guthrie, Joanne F., 2008. "Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students," Economic Research Report 56489, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
    4. Stefano DellaVigna & M. Daniele Paserman, 2005. "Job Search and Impatience," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 527-588, July.
    5. Agarwal, Sumit & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Liu, Chunlin & Souleles, Nicholas S., 2005. "Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/32, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    6. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2007:i:43:p:1-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Hanming Fang & Dan Silverman, 2009. "Time-Inconsistency And Welfare Program Participation: Evidence From The Nlsy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1043-1077, November.
    8. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
    9. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:8:y:2008:i:5:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2004. "The Doubtful Profitability of Foggy Pricing," Working Papers 04-07, NET Institute.
    11. Grenadier, Steven R. & Wang, Neng, 2007. "Investment under uncertainty and time-inconsistent preferences," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 2-39, April.
    12. Kfir Eliaz & Ran Spiegler, 2006. "Contracting with Diversely Naive Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 689-714.
    13. Joseph Eisenhauer & Luigi Ventura, 2006. "The prevalence of hyperbolic discounting: some European evidence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(11), pages 1223-1234.
    14. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    15. David Laibson & Xavier Gabaix, 2004. "Competition and Consumer Confusion," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 663, Econometric Society.
    16. Huffman, David B. & Barenstein, Matias, 2004. "Riches to Rags Every Month? The Fall in Consumption Expenditures Between Paydays," IZA Discussion Papers 1430, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Tomak, Kerem & Keskin, Tayfun, 2008. "Exploring the trade-off between immediate gratification and delayed network externalities in the consumption of information goods," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 187(3), pages 887-902, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1800. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/gsstaus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.