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Do You Look to the Future or Focus on Today? The Impact of Life Experience on Intertemporal Decisions


  • Liu, Wendy

    (Stanford U)

  • Aaker, Jennifer L.


In this research, we investigate the impact of significant life experiences on intertemporal decisions among young adults. A series of experiments focus specifically on the impact of experiencing the death of a close other by cancer. We show that such an experience, which bears information about time, is associated with making decisions that favor the long-term future over short-term interests (Studies 1 and 2). Underlying this effect appears to be increased salience and concreteness regarding one's future life course, shifting focus away from the present toward the long run (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, we explore the shift caused by a cancer death of a public figure and examine its stability over time (Study 5). Implications for research on intertemporal decision making and the impact of life events on perceptions and preferences are discussed.

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  • Liu, Wendy & Aaker, Jennifer L., 2006. "Do You Look to the Future or Focus on Today? The Impact of Life Experience on Intertemporal Decisions," Research Papers 1924, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1924

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Loewenstein, George, 1996. "Out of Control: Visceral Influences on Behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 272-292, March.
    2. Klaus Wertenbroch, 1998. "Consumption Self-Control by Rationing Purchase Quantities of Virtue and Vice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(4), pages 317-337.
    3. Loewenstein, George, 1987. "Anticipation and the Valuation of Delayed Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 666-684, September.
    4. 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.
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